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American Society of Civil Engineers Puerto Rico Section

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/PUERTO-RICO

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INTRODUCTION
Infrastructure is central to quality of life and economic development. Households receive a wide range of goods and
services thanks to infrastructure, including fresh fruit and vegetables, water, electronics, and textile goods. Meanwhile,
infrastructure can reduce fixed costs of production for businesses, especially costs associated with transportation, which
tend to be a determinant of business location. Simply put, infrastructure matters to people and businesses all around.

Puerto Rico is no exception. The quality of infrastructure is essential in the daily lives of the people of Puerto Rico, and
this was all too evident when Hurricanes Maria and Irma devastated the island in 2017. Two years removed from the
storms, rebuilding our infrastructure remains a work in progress. Unfortunately, constant failures in the energy system,
prevalent poor conditions in the road network, and notable deferred maintenance across public buildings impact daily
functions, mobility and productivity. They serve as vivid reminders of the need to increase investment in infrastructure,
employ better maintenance practices, and develop smarter policy.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), founded in 1852, is the oldest national professional engineering society in
the United States. ASCE represents more than 150,000 members of the civil engineering profession in 177 countries. The
Puerto Rico Section is commemorating its 90th anniversary with the release of the first Report Card for Puerto Rico’s
Infrastructure. The ASCE Puerto Rico Section has devoted significant personal time in the development of the
Infrastructure Report Card, in hopes of encouraging smart rebuilding efforts, influencing sound infrastructure policy,
keeping the island competitive, and improving Puerto Ricans quality of life.

Contained in this report card is an analysis of eight categories of infrastructure: bridges, dams, drinking water, energy,
ports, roads, solid waste, and wastewater. However, there are other built networks in Puerto Rico that are vitally
important to public safety and wellbeing that aren’t included in this report. For example, school facilities were critical to
the recovery efforts following the 2017 hurricanes, and many of these buildings need rehabilitation. Coastal infrastructure
serves to safeguard Puerto Rico from storms and sea level rise, as well as protect the environment and foster economic
longevity. There are other areas of significant concern not covered by this report card, including land use planning and a
lack of access to affordable housing. These challenges are critically important but are outside the scope of this ASCE
Infrastructure Report Card.

The 2019 ASCE Report Card for Puerto Rico’s Infrastructure is a simple tool to help residents, businesses, and policymakers
understand the state of the island’s infrastructure and consider solutions to raise the grades. This information is intended
to move the conversation forward about how to rebuild Puerto Rico and improve our economy and quality of life.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Grading Criteria …………….…………….……………… 4
Grading Scale …………….……………….………………. 5
GPA ………………………….………………….……………. 6
Solutions to Raise the Grades …………………… 7
Economic Analysis …………………………………… 8
Bridges …………………………………………………… 12
Dams ………………………………………………………… 17
Drinking Water …………………………………………. 23
Energy ……………. ………………………………………… 28
Ports …………….…………….……………. ……………. 34
Roads …………….…………….…………….……………. 38
Solid Waste …………….…………….…………….…… 50
Wastewater …………….…………….…………….….. 55
Acknowledgements …………….…………….……… 61

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GRADING CRITERIA
The Report Card Sections are based on the following eight criteria:

CAPACITY Does the infrastructure’s capacity meet current and future demands?

CONDITION What is the infrastructure’s existing and near-future physical condition?

FUNDING What is the current level of funding from all levels of government for the infrastructure category
as compared to the estimated funding need?

FUTURE NEED What is the cost to improve the infrastructure? Will future funding prospects address the
need?

OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE What is the owners’ ability to operate and maintain the
infrastructure properly? Is the infrastructure in compliance with government regulations?

PUBLIC SAFETY To what extent is the public’s safety jeopardized by the condition of the infrastructure
and what could be the consequences of failure?

RESILIENCE What is the infrastructure system’s capability to prevent or protect against significant multi-
hazard threats and incidents? How able is it to quickly recover and reconstitute critical services with minimum
consequences for public safety and health, the economy, and national security?

INNOVATION What new and innovative techniques, materials, technologies, and delivery methods are
being implemented to improve the infrastructure?

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GRADING SCALE
EXCEPTIONAL: FIT FOR THE FUTURE
The infrastructure in the system or network is generally in excellent condition, typically new or
recently rehabilitated, and meets capacity needs for the future. A few elements show signs of
general deterioration that require attention. Facilities meet modern standards for functionality and
resilient to withstand most disasters and severe weather events.

GOOD: ADEQUATE FOR NOW


The infrastructure in the system or network is in good to excellent condition; some elements show
signs of general deterioration that require attention. A few elements exhibit significant deficiencies.
Safe and reliable with minimal capacity issues and minimal risk.

MEDIOCRE: REQUIRES ATTENTION


The infrastructure in the system or network is in fair to good condition; it shows general signs of
deterioration and requires attention. Some elements exhibit significant deficiencies in conditions
and functionality, with increasing vulnerability to risk.

POOR: AT RISK
The infrastructure is in poor to fair condition and mostly below standard, with many elements
approaching the end of their service life. A large portion of the system exhibits significant
deterioration. Condition and capacity are of significant concern with strong risk of failure.

FAILING/CRITICAL: UNFIT FOR PURPOSE


The infrastructure in the system is in unacceptable condition with widespread advanced signs of
deterioration. Many of the components of the system exhibit signs of imminent failure.

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2019 REPORT CARD FOR PUERTO RICO’S INFRASTRUCTURE

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SOLUTIONS TO RAISE THE GRADE
Increase the resiliency of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure. Our future depends on the ability of our infrastructure to not only
protect us against increasingly severe storms, but to facilitate timely emergency management, response, and recovery
efforts after a major event. The resiliency of all our networks can be improved by requiring the Central Government and
municipalities build to ASCE 7 standards, incorporating lifecycle cost analysis into projects, and by maintaining our existing
assets. Taking these actions will extend the useful life of our assets and decrease costs in the long-term.

Establish a Puerto Rico Infrastructure Plan with a wide variety of stakeholders and experts in the field. Infrastructure
development is a long-term endeavor with significant impacts on economic growth and competitiveness. Puerto Rico
should formulate a general Infrastructure Plan with clear priorities and strategies to achieve them. This plan should be
approved by the Legislative Assembly but be developed with limited political interference. In the international area, the
Caribbean region has some successful examples of a similar approach. For instance, in 2012 the Dominican Republic
adopted their National Development Strategy 2030, which is a long-term plan for development that was enacted into law
to ensure continuity in its implementation. The National Development Plan 2030 for Dominican Republic has clear
infrastructure goals and indicators.

Puerto Rico’s infrastructure systems need comprehensive and consistent maintenance programs and databases. A lack
of programmed funding for the comprehensive maintenance of our existing roads, bridges, energy, dams and other critical
networks has severely impacted the lifespan of these assets. Developing comprehensive asset management databases is
a critical first step, as these databases can help determine total funding and maintenance needs. Looking ahead,
infrastructure planning, designing, and constructing should consider the total cost of operating an asset over its lifespan.
Resiliency and sustainability must be factors in determining lifecycle costs. Lessons learned, unique Puerto Rico
characteristics, and climate change should also be considered.

Improve and increase the technical expertise at agencies that own and operate infrastructure so that they can complete
regulatory requirements. Many of Puerto Rico’s agencies have too few technical experts to operate the infrastructure in
accordance with regulations and customer expectations. Additionally, institutional knowledge is not codified in the
agency, but instead may be lost when individuals retire or resign. We need to improve the continuity of the workforce
training to operate and maintain our roads, solid waste, drinking and wastewater infrastructure.

Increase drinking water infrastructure’s capacity and delivery. An estimated 40 to 60% of storage capacity in water
reservoirs is lost due to sedimentation build up. Additionally, an estimated 58% of non-revenue water is lost as a result of
leaky pipes, tank overflows, and other issues. As a result, residents are subjected to water rationing nearly every year,
despite significant annual rainfall. To fix this, we need sediment management in reservoirs to restore capacity, improved
metering of treated water, better data collection to determine the condition of pipelines and a more regular line renewal
and replacement program. Additionally, new funding and financing should be secured from all levels of government.

Solid waste infrastructure needs immediate action and significant funding. Landfills on Puerto Rico are often lacking an
updated permit or are unregulated, resulting in non-compliance with Environmental Protection Agency standards.
Capacity is also a major challenge, exacerbated by the debris from the 2017 hurricane season. Looking ahead, policymakers
must close open dumps, expand landfills in compliance, monitor closed landfills, increase staff at the Department of
Natural and Environmental Resources, and promote recycling and composting.

The Central Government and municipalities must develop and implement a plan to rehabilitate, reconstruct, and
maintain roads to the highest standards. Most roads in Puerto Rico are owned by municipalities, which often lack
sufficient funding, robust data, and the in-house expertise or technical experts to build, rebuild and maintain roads to
acceptable standards.

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Economic Analysis
TRENDS IN INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT IN PUERTO RICO
This section of the ASCE Report Card provides an overview of current infrastructure conditions in Puerto Rico and levels
of investment across the infrastructure sectors.

According to the Construction Industry Selected Statistics Report, total investment in infrastructure has been trending
down since fiscal year 2000.

In fiscal year 2000, the value of construction in infrastructure reached a peak of $2.04 billion. Subsequent years reveal a
downtrend to a low of $983.3 million and $1,210.3 million in fiscal years 2017 and 2018, respectively. These are declines
of over 40% with respect to fiscal year 2000. The graph below shows the trend in infrastructure investment for the last
twenty-four (24) fiscal years in Puerto Rico.
Trend in Investment in Infrastructure

$2,100.0
$2,042.1

$1,685.1
$1,616.2

$1,414.9
$1,400.0 $1,372.3

$1,331.7
$1,281.7 $1,210.3

$1,106.6

$896.7 $983.3

$700.0
1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018

Fiscal Years, $ in millions.


To put matters into context, it is important to understand the level of investment in and around fiscal year 2000. The
majority of investment of Puerto Rico’s first energy cogeneration plant occurred in fiscal year 2000, which coincided with
other significant investments by the private sector. Simultaneously, public investment remained at healthy levels in
different infrastructure installations.

Eighteen years later, the scenario was a much different one. In fiscal year 2018, total value of construction in infrastructure
had dropped 41% compared to fiscal year 2000. A clearer picture can be obtained by analyzing total investment into public
and private investment. In fiscal year 2018, the value of private and public construction activity into infrastructure was
down 31% and 51% compared to the level in fiscal year 2000, respectively. The data show that public investment, in
particular, has been in a steep decline since fiscal year 2008. Meanwhile, private investment in infrastructure remained
low for most of the first decade of 2000s, and it was not until fiscal year 2010 that it experienced a notable increase.

In general terms, public investment played a dominant role between fiscal years 2003 to 2008, while private investment
slumped to meager levels. After reaching a peak in 2008, public investment has constantly declined while private
investment took a boost between fiscal year 2010 and 2012. This trend appears consistent with certain policy and
economic fundamental shifts in Puerto Rico. Fiscal year 2008 marked the beginning of the Great Recession. Fiscal

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constraints in Puerto Rico became more evident, which led to a decline in public investment, and forced a more systematic
effort to encourage private investment to compensate for the inability of government to allocate funding and financing
into infrastructure including capital improvements.
Trend in Public and Private Investment in Infrastructure
1,400.0
$1,325.8

$1,197.1
1,200.0

$1,054.3

1,000.0 $962.2 $953.0

$874.5

800.0 $762.8
$733.7 $727.1
$695.5

600.0

$483.2

400.0 $380.8

$290.7 $287.8

200.0
$133.9

0.0
1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018
Private Investment Public Investment

Fiscal Years, $ in millions.


The trend based on data from fiscal years 2000 to 2018 reveal certain key lessons about infrastructure investment in
Puerto Rico. First, fiscal year 2000 marked the end of a brief period of boosted public and private investment in Puerto
Rico’s infrastructure. Subsequently, between 2002 and 2011, the share of private investment declined dramatically, and
only since 2018 has there been a slight jump in private expenditures. Finally, since 2008, public investment has dragged
the entire level of infrastructure investment in Puerto Rico to historic lows. In short, investment in infrastructure from
both public and private sources have lagged since 2000.

INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT GAP


ASCE asks that investment in infrastructure constitute 3.5% of Gross Domestic Product (“GDP”). This benchmark is
consistent with internationally accepted rule of thumb that at least 3% of GDP should be devoted to infrastructure
investment in advanced economies in order to keep infrastructure updated.

On average, federal, state and local governments in the U.S. spent 2.4% of GDP on infrastructure investment, below the
recommended threshold. However, investment in infrastructure only amounted to 1.2% of GDP Puerto Rico in fiscal year
2018. In fact, significant divestment in infrastructure has occurred for a prolonged period of time. On average, Puerto Rico
has experienced a level of investment in infrastructure of just 1.5% of GDP from fiscal year 2001 to 2018. Fiscal year 2018,
contains the month of September 2017, when Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria, the most devastating hurricane in
recent history in Puerto Rico. Thus, the data in these series only includes a small portion of post-Hurricane Maria recovery
spending. The last time investment in infrastructure reached the 3% GDP mark, was in fiscal year 2000, when Puerto Rico
recorded a level of investment equivalent to 3.3% of GDP. The graph below shows the trend in investment level as a
percentage of GDP.
Investment in Infrastructure as a Percentage of Puerto Rico’s GDP

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3.3%
3.2%

2.7%
2.6% 2.7%
2.5%

2.3% 2.3% 2.2%

1.8% 1.7%
1.7% 1.7%
1.7%
1.5%
1.5% 1.6% 1.5% 1.4%
1.3% 1.4%
1.2%
1.1%
1.0%
0.9%

1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018

Based on the ASCE’s benchmark and the data above, it is reasonable to estimate that Puerto Rico faces an infrastructure
investment gap that ranges from 1.3% to 2.3% of GDP. In other words, on average, Puerto Rico needs to increase
infrastructure investment by $1.3 to $2.3 billion annually in order to reach a desired range of 2.5%-3.5% of GDP. Sustained,
robust investment in infrastructure will allow Puerto Rico to address pressing needs across infrastructure sectors.

Furthermore, increased level of investment in infrastructure will provide support for economic growth. The existing levels
of infrastructure investment are not associated with an expanding economy. The graph below portrays a graphical
relationship between infrastructure investment and the evolution of GDP.

Indexed Investment in Infrastructure versus GDP


300

250
Indexed GDP

200

150

Indexed Investment
Infrastructure
100

50

0
1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018

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CONCLUSION
Modern infrastructure is critical for quality of life, productivity and economic development in general. Puerto Rico’s level
of infrastructure investment has been declining constantly since fiscal year 2000. Although the downtrend can have
various explanations, the constraints in public finances and credit have had the largest dragging effect on infrastructure
investment. However, a policy of encouraging complementary roles between public and private infrastructure investment
can lead to increases in infrastructure in a sustainable manner. Puerto Rico faces a notable infrastructure investment gap
that can be mitigated by raising the level of attention and enacting policies that gives infrastructure a renewed sense of
priority in the public debate.

RESOURCES
1. Puerto Rico Planning Board, Selected Statistics of the Construction Industry, Table 1, 1994 -2018p. Data series
constructed by the authors to reflect the adopted definition of infrastructure.
2. Puerto Rico Planning Board, Selected Statistics of the Construction Industry, Table 1, 1994-2018p. Data series
constructed by the authors to reflect the adopted definition of infrastructure.
3. Puerto Rico Planning Board, Statistical Appendix 1994 – 2018p and Selected Statistics for the Construction
Industry 1994-2018p.
4. Ward Romp and Jakob de Haan, “Public Capital and Economic Growth: A Critical Survey,” Perspektiven der
Wirtschaftspolitik, vol. 8, no. 5 (April 2007), pp. 6-52.

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Bridges D+
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
According to the Federal Highway Administration, there are 2,325 bridges in Puerto Rico. Of those bridges, 11.7 percent
are in poor condition, and approximately 69 percent are in fair condition. Only 19 percent of Puerto Rico’s bridges are in
good condition. Additionally, Puerto Rico is home to four of the nation’s top 250 most travelled structurally deficient
bridges, with two in the top 10. Hurricanes Irma and Maria further exacerbated the precarious fiscal situation of Puerto
Rico’s highway agency. The Puerto Rico Highways & Transportation Authority and other bridge owners were forced to
reassign regular maintenance funding to asset recovery due to widespread damage. Furthermore, planned capital
improvement projects were put on hold to allow agencies to prioritize emergency repairs to bring damaged infrastructure
back online. Looking forward, a robust maintenance program must be established and funded that prioritizes improving
resilience and rehabilitating aging bridges.

CONDITION & CAPACITY


Bridge facilities are owned and serviced by state, municipal/county highway agencies as well as the state toll authority.
Table 1 shows the breakdown of bridge ownership in Puerto Rico.

Bridge Owner Frequency Percentage (%)


Municipal/County 374 16
State Highway Agency 1,632 70
State Toll Authority 312 13.4
Other (Private Owners) 16 0.7
Table 1 Bridge Ownership in Puerto Rico (Source: Adapted from PRHTA)

The National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS) requires bridge inspections at a minimum of every two years. Puerto Rico
completes bridge inspections in compliance with NBIS, but some structures may be inspected more frequently (e.g., 6, 12
or 24 months) depending on the bridge’s condition.

The National Bridge Inventory (NBI) of 2018 classifies bridges as in good, fair or poor condition. Bridges in good condition
present minor to no problems, while bridges in fair condition can show some minor deterioration, cracking, scour or
spelling. Bridges in poor condition show signs of advance deterioration, spelling or scour. In Puerto Rico 19 percent of the
bridges and culverts in Puerto Rico were classified in good condition, 69 percent were classified in fair condition, and 11.7
percent were classified in poor condition.

Good
434 Poor
19% 273
12%
Poor
Fair
Fair
1,607
69% Good

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Figure 2 Bridge Conditions Rating (Source: NBI-PRHTA, 2018)
Structurally deficient
bridges are bridges that require significant maintenance, rehabilitation, or replacement. These bridges must be inspected
at least every year since critical load-carrying elements were found to be in poor condition due to deterioration or damage.
Approximately 11.7 percent were considered structurally deficient, a classification that roughly equates to “poor.” In
addition, Puerto Rico is home to four of the nation’s top 250 most travelled yet structurally deficient bridges, with two
being among the top 10. A structurally deficient bridge does not mean its unsafe, but that the capabilities of the structure
are limited, and must be monitored. The designation has a financial impact for the overseeing agency.

Age can also be an indicator of bridge condition, although bridge lifespans can be extended through regular maintenance.
The average age of Puerto Rico’s bridges is 45 years old – slightly older than the U.S average bridge age of 43 years, per
ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card. Most of the country’s bridges were designed for a lifespan of 50 years, so an
increasing number of bridges will soon need major rehabilitation or retirement. Currently, 37 percent of the bridges in
Puerto Rico have reached a service life of 50 or more years, and 21 percent of the bridges have reached a service life
between 40 and 49 years. Bridges of this era often reach the end of their service lives at 50 years of age, especially when
regular repair and maintenance does not occur. By 2030 at least 1,400 bridges will be 50 years or older, representing
approximately 60 percent of Puerto Rico’s bridge inventory.

90+ 171
80-89 64
70-79 146
60-69 196
Age (yrs.)

50-59 293
40-49 486
30-39 212
20-29 400
10-19 252
0-9 113

0 100 200 300 400 500 600


Amount
Bridges

Figure 2 – Service Life Distribution of Bridges in Puerto Rico (Source: PRHTA)

In addition to nearing or surpassing their service lives, bridge conditions are worsening due to the exposure of high loads,
poor maintenance, and scour. Under Puerto Rican law, trucks can weigh up to 110,000 pounds, compared with U.S.
mainland regulations, which generally allow for up to 80,000lb trucks. High loads may result in more damage to bridges
and roadways, which increases the amount of funding needed to perform routine operation and maintenance.

Additionally, many of Puerto Rico’s bridges have problems of exposed foundations due to scour. Scour is the result of
forceful flow of water in a watercourse over the foundations of a bridge that removes the soil or rock around and
underneath the foundation. Heavy rains during Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 resulted in increased scour around
many bridge foundations. Overall, scour and structural deficiencies are two problems with bridges that PRHTA needs
proper funding to address immediately.

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OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE
With the exception of the 123 bridges operated and managed by the private company Metropistas, operation and
maintenance (O&M) of bridges is generally managed by the state government or municipalities. In past years prior to
Hurricane Irma and Maria, the transportation infrastructure plan prioritized bridges in critical condition using the following
criteria: presence on the NHS list, traffic volume, status as fracture critical, and sole provider of access to a region.

O&M of bridges in Puerto Rico has been greatly hampered by the economic distress, a lack of personnel, and inadequate
access to technology at the managing agencies. Hurricanes Irma and Maria further exacerbated the situation as agencies
were forced to reassign regular maintenance funding to asset recovery due to widespread damage. Furthermore, planned
capital improvements projects were put on hold to allow agencies to prioritize emergency repairs to bring damaged
infrastructure back online.

PRHTA has a standard operation procedure for bridge project prioritization, a systematic preventive maintenance protocol
for bridges, and it has a bridge preventive maintenance selection toolkit and checklist. However, in past years, the annual
budget allocation for bridge work was $17 million, while the cost to replace one square meter of bridge is approximately
$3,150. PRHTA was only able to address 0.26 percent of the area of Puerto Rico’s bridges, forcing them to place bridges
on the Critical Bridge List. However, PRHTA has just recently received a substantial bridge budget increase and is pursuing
an aggressive bridge program based upon life cycle strategies.

FUNDING AND FUTURE NEED


A significant number of Puerto Rico’s bridges have aged past their design life, and many additional bridges are now
approaching the end of their service lives. As a result, robust funding is needed for bridge replacement, preservation, and
rehabilitation. The 10-year condition targets is to have at least 10 percent of NHS bridges in good condition and no more
than 10 percent of NHS bridges in poor condition. Currently, 18.5% NHS bridges are in good condition, however, bridge
preservation and rehabilitation is important to maintain and increase the bridges in good condition.

Based on a proposed $738 million dollar investment from 2019 to 2028, PRHTA may achieve condition targets near the
end of the 10-year asset management plan period. However, there are risk considering the proposed plan that may alter
the expected results. The proposed plan does not account for continued inflation over the 10-year period, nor interruption
of funding allocated for the bridge program. The long-term commitment of bridge preservation, rehabilitation and
reconstruction projects are essential to achieving the desired results.

Funding is provided by both the federal government and the central government. Puerto Rico increased revenue for
transportation as part of a 2015 law known as “Crudita.” The “Crudita” raised the import tariff on a barrel of oil from $9.25
to $15.50, which went into effect on March 15, 2015. With this, the Puerto Rico government aims to collect about $185
million in taxes that would allow it to subsidize the PRHTA and stabilize its finances. One of the purposes of this law is to
financially assist PRHTA while also reducing its debt.

Federal funds are a critical financial resource for Puerto Rico. These funds are channeled to Puerto Rico through the
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for highway projects and through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for
mass transit projects. The federal government’s share of a project is 80 percent, or up to 90 percent if the project is part
of the interstate system.

In 2015, the federal government passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, authorizing $305 billion
for surface transportation infrastructure through September 2020 nationwide. Through this bill, the Federal Highway
Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Agency (FTA) provide PRHTA with $158.8 million per year for NHS
roadways. Non-NHS roadways can receive federal funding from Surface Transportation Block Grant or Federal Emergency
Management Agency in emergency cases.

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Determining Puerto Rico’s funding plan can be complicated for reasons that include:
1. Puerto Rico is a nonincorporated territory. This means federal funding is determined by a different formula
than the states. It is worthwhile to investigate the differences and benefits between these formulas.
2. In Puerto Rico, transportation-related taxes and fees are not constitutionally dedicated to transportation
purposes. Moreover, this revenue stream is sometimes redirected to other pressing situations not related to
transportation.
3. On-going and proposed projects of PRHTA are financially based on toll credits from the federal government
or emergency relief funding. State government provides a minor part of the budget allocated.

RESILIENCY AND INNOVATION


Bridges fared much better than other components of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure systems during Hurricanes Irma and
Maria. In general, bridges on the island withstood the wind forces of both hurricanes, and major problems were instead
caused by high waters and debris accumulation.

Moving forward, it is important to learn from the experience of Hurricane María while also considering other natural
disasters such as tsunamis and earthquakes. New designs should incorporate consideration of increasing frequency and
severity of natural disasters, sea level rise, and the side effects of extreme weather such as scour and impacts of debris to
infrastructure in their designs.

Another challenge to bridges relates to truck weights. Puerto Rico has one of the highest truck loads permitted in the
United States and constant load pressures on bridges cause fatigue to structural elements. Consideration of the higher
weight allowance must be accounted for when designing new bridges, maintaining established structures, and planning
or developing routes that incorporate heavy truck loads.

Puerto Rico must also develop life cycle approaches that accounts for bridge rehabilitation and renovation maintenance
programs to extend the service life of bridges. Having a long-term commitment to robust maintenance programs, leading-
edge materials, techniques, designs, and infrastructure management databases can extend the useful life of bridges while
lowering the long-term costs. Committing to fund the maintenance programs and adopt complete life cycle approach
should be a priority.

RECOMMENDATIONS
Based on the current condition of the bridge infrastructure in Puerto Rico, and the importance of upgrading the system
to improve safety to all road users, the following recommendations are made:
1. Adequate funding is needed to implement preventive maintenance programs immediately and stop further bridge
deterioration.
2. Provide adequate funding to implement bridge replacement and rehabilitation immediately. Puerto Rico’s TAMP
plan proposes a $738 million dollars investment over 10 years, assuming post hurricane Maria inflation will not
continue.
3. Enhance and maximize the use of federal funds.

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SOURCES
1. 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, A Comprehensive Assessment of America's infrastructure. (2017, March). Retrieved
from https://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/2017-Infrastructure-Report-Card.pdf
2. 2019 Georgia Infrastructure Report Card. (2019, January 23). Retrieved from
https://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/state-item/georgia/
3. 2019 Vermont Infrastructure Report Card. (2019, July 18). Retrieved from
https://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/state-item/vermont/
4. ARTBA Bridge Report. (2019). Retrieved from https://artbabridgereport.org/
5. Asset Management. (2019, October 22). Retrieved from https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/asset/plans.cfm
6. Bridges & Structures. (2019, September 9). Retrieved from https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/nbi.cfm
7. Government of Puerto Rico Puerto Rico Department of ... (2019, March 4). Retrieved from
http://act.dtop.pr.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Final-SJ-TIP-2019-2022.pdf
8. PRHTA Final Fiscal Plan 2018 - 2023. (2018, April 5). Retrieved from http://www.aafaf.pr.gov/assets/prhta-fiscal-
plan---2018-04-05-vpublic.pdf
9. Puerto Rico Transportation Asset Management Plan. (2018, April 12). Retrieved from
http://carreterasegurapr.com/Content/docs/presentations_2018/PR-TAMP.pdf
10. Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). (2015, December 14). Retrieved from
https://www.transit.dot.gov/regulations-and-guidance/transportation-planning/statewide-transportation-
improvement-program-stip

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DAMS D+
SUMMARY
Puerto Rico’s 37 dams maintain water levels in reservoirs and streams for a variety of purposes, including recreation, flood
control, potable water storage, and hydropower. Ninety-seven percent of Puerto Rico’s dams are high-hazard potential,
meaning failure would likely result in a loss of life. Island-wide, all the high-hazard potential dams have emergency action
plans (EAP) in place, although only 35 percent were exercised – i.e. tested – in the past five years. While 81 percent of
dams in Puerto Rico are reported to be in satisfactory condition, the state dam safety office lacks the funding to do
comprehensive seismic and hydraulic studies and other analysis that is needed to more thoroughly determine the current
conditions, risks, and necessary retrofits of the dams. Additionally, dams owners require funding to perform retrofits
deemed necessary if discovered during those inspections. Meanwhile, sedimentation poses a long-term threat and
impacts the ability of dams to store enough water to serve residents during dry seasons. Several of the most important
water supply reservoirs have lost between 30 percent and 60 percent of their capacity due to sedimentation. With a large
number of dams aged 50 years or more and predicted increases in flooding, additional funding is required to mitigate the
risk of dam failure, especially for dams within the North Coast water supply network.

Figure 3: Puerto Rico High-Hazard Potential Dams

BACKGROUND
There are 37 dams of various sizes in Puerto Rico; 36 across rivers of the interior mountain region and one located on the
east coast of the island (Figure 1). The dams provide services such as flood control, hydropower, and reservoirs for
agricultural irrigation, recreation, and potable water. Just 11 dams contain approximately 67 percent of the drinking water
sources for the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA). The average age of dams is 66 years old. Seven are
sediment-filled and without maintenance and no longer fulfill their intended design.

Most dams are owned and operated by state-owned utilities, the P.R. Electric Power Authority (PREPA), the P.R. Aqueduct
and Sewer Authority (PRASA), or state and local governments (Figure 2). The Dam and Reservoir Safety Inspection and
Regulation Unit, a division within PREPA, is required to inspect each dam at least once every three years to identify
structural and maintenance problems and needs. Their constructed capacity was 375,410 acre-feet, which has been
reduced to 287,983 acre-feet due to sedimentation (about a 23 percent reduction).

Of the state-regulated dams, 36 are high-hazard potential (97 percent). A high-hazard potential classification indicates
that dam failure or misoperation would likely result in loss of life and significant economic damages. The remining dam
(Icacos) is classified as low-hazard potential, meaning a failure or mis-operation results in no probable loss of human life
and low economic and/or environmental losses.

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/PUERTO-RICO | 17
Dams Ownership
State
8%
Private
8%

Local
21%
Utility
63%

Figure 4: Puerto Rico’s Dams Ownership

CAPACITY
Reservoirs contained by Puerto Rico’s dams along rivers, streams and wells supply approximately 580 million gallons per
day (mgd) of the raw water used by PRASA, which constitutes 67 percent of the island’s drinking water. Reservoirs also
provide approximately 40 mgd of water for agricultural irrigation in the northern and southern coastal valleys. In addition,
they provide water to generate approximately 1.8 percent of the electric power produced by PREPA and support flood
control in the Portugués, Cerrillos, Ajies and Dagüey basins.

The accumulation of sediments in reservoirs has reduced the storage capacity of all dams. Capacity has been reduced by
more than 50 percent at the Dos Bocas, Loco, Loiza and Lucchetti dams. The baseline total capacity was approximately
375,410 acre-feet but was reduced to 287,983 acre-feet before Hurricane Maria. This represents a 23.3 percent decrease
and a rate of sedimentation of 4.7 acre-feet per year at the El Guineo Dam to 277 acre-feet per year at the Dos Bocas
Dam. High sedimentation rates occur in the north and east basins of the island where the rainfall is high, and the basins
are more developed.

If the current sedimentation rate continues, the dams’ life expectancies will be jeopardized. Consequently, this will affect
their ability to generate hydroelectric power and store drinking water. This is the case for the Dos Bocas reservoir, whose
capacity (pre-María) was reduced by more than 60 percent due to sedimentation. Furthermore, given its current
sedimentation rate, life expectancy of the Dos Bocas reservoir is less than 35 years. The Dos Bocas reservoir, along with
Caonillas and four others, is a part of the North Coast Superaqueduct which supplies more than 50 mgd drinking water to
approximately 600,000 residents in the region. Other dams with low life expectancy include Loco, Loiza and Lucchetti with
fewer than 15, 45 and 50 years, respectively.

Because a dam’s hydroelectric generation performance is directly related to the dam capacity, the sedimentation of the
dams affects electric generation. The installed hydroelectric energy generation capacity for the dams is 101.2 megawatts
(MW). However, generation capacity has been reduced to 35 MW. Damage from hurricane María accounts for 31 MW of
this reduction with the remainder attributed to lack of maintenance.

CONDITION

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The National Inventory of Dams (NID) lists 36 state regulated dams in Puerto Rico. The majority, 24, are owned by state
controlled public utilities (PREPA or PRASA). Additionally, eight are owned by the local government, one by the state and
three are privately owned. The final dam in Puerto Rico is small enough that it is not listed in the NID.

All of the state regulated dams are of high-hazard potential, the Dam Safety Performance Report states that 29 are in
satisfactory condition, four are in fair condition, two are in poor condition, and one is not rated. However, the Dam Safety
Performance Report is based on state-provided information. Currently, dam conditions are being assessed through visual
inspections. Due to budget constraints, the Dam Safety Inspection is limited in its ability to perform a diversity of studies
such as seismic, hydraulic, stability, risk assessments, among other that are required to fully understand the current
conditions to thoroughly determine their risks and necessary retrofits of the dams.

It is important to perform thorough analysis in timely manner to the dams, especially dams that are at least 50 years old
(Figure 3). It’s likely that some old dams were built without the seismic risk countermeasures, thus requiring more
resources for thorough analysis in timely manner and retrofitting budget. However, in instances in which studies are
conducted, they could take years also due to limited the budget.

OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE


On July 15, 1986, Law 133 was amended to require
all dams be fully inspected at least once every
three years. The inspections are carried out by the
Dam and Reservoir Safety Inspection and
Regulation Unit of PREPA. While the publicly-
available 2019 NID reports that 10 inspections are
out of date, NID information can take month to
recollect and aggregate. For this reason, it’s
possible that most or all dam inspections are up to
date.

The maintenance and operation of the dams in


Puerto Rico is risk-based. This means that the
priority for repair is given to structures that pose
the greatest risk. However, a comprehensive
assessment program is needed to focus on
identifying deficiencies and prioritizing the repairs
and mitigation measures.

Most of the dams have one operator during regular business hours (7:30AM-4:30PM). For dams primarily used for
hydroelectricity, the operator is located in the hydrogeneration plant and makes visits as necessary. Because some of the
operators are nearing retirement age, it would be beneficial to create a knowledge retention program to seamlessly train,
and transfer experience and knowledge, to future operators.

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2000+ 3

1980-1999 3

1960-1979 4

1940-1959 14

1920-1939 6

1900-1919 6

Figure 5: Dams by Completion Date (from NID)

PUBLIC SAFETY
Dam failure threatens public safety and poses millions of dollars in economic loss via property damages. Failure is not
limited to damage to the dam itself, but also impacts infrastructure systems, such as roads, bridges, and water systems.
While no dam has ever failed, from 1985 to 2017, there were three notable dam incidents, one of them causing loss of life
and heavy damage.

Puerto Rico Law 133 was amended to require all dams be fully inspected at least once every three years. These inspections
are carried out by the Dam and Reservoir Safety Inspection and Regulation Unit of PREPA. Dam safety inspections are the
primary tool for avoiding accidents. However, for at least 10 of the dams registered in the 2019 NID, the last inspection
date is more than three years old. As previously mentioned, the information reflected in the NID may take months to
update, so inspection numbers may be out of date.

Once an emergency situation becomes imminent, such as a dam failure or uncontrolled release, Emergency Action Plans
(EAPs) are put into action. Each dam has an EAP to standardizes procedures in case of a breach or failure and includes lists
of agencies to alert, together with and flood inundation maps informing emergency personnel of at-risk areas that may
require evacuation. After an EAP has been developed, it must be exercised by practicing the procedure, and it requires
regular updating.

All 36 high hazard dams in Puerto Rico have an EAP. However, according to the 2019 Dam Safety Performance Report for
Puerto Rico, only 35 percent of EAPs have been exercised in the past five years. After Hurricane María, an EAP was
executed for the Guajataca Dam.

Currently, Puerto Rico has legislation to formalize methods for dam inventory, hazard classification, inspection, design,
and condition assessment. Removal of obsolete and decaying dams that do not meet dam safety standards is not
considered in this legislation. Therefore, the state needs additional resources to increase staffing levels in the PREPA and
PRASA to properly assess and manage dams.

FUNDING & FUTURE NEED


Investment is needed to rehabilitate deficient dams and to improve the effectiveness of dam safety policies and regulatory
programs. Occasional upgrades or rehabilitation to dams are necessary due to deterioration, evolving technical standards,
technical improvements, progress in weather forecasting, increases in downstream population, and changes in land use.

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According to the Puerto Rico Dam Safety program, the total state dam safety budget for 2018 was $230,686. This is
equivalent to $6,234 per regulated high-hazard potential dam, which is higher than the national average of approximately
$4,000. However, Puerto Rico’s dam safety staff consists of five full time equivalents (FTE) - equivalent to seven state
regulated high hazard dams per FTE, which is below the national average of 30 high-hazard potential dams per FTE for
state inspected dams. The Puerto Rico Dam Safety program is well above the national average in terms of budget and
staffing per dam, but regular inspections are not necessarily being completed and dam owners have very limited budgets
for maintenance and repair.

However, more funding is needed to address the existing sedimentation of dams, especially those critical to supplying the
island’s drinking water, an especially important role during droughts and dry seasons. As an example, an annual dredging
program to mitigate the sedimentation issues for up to 20 years could cost $15 million per dam that provides drinking
water. However, immediate costs for dredging Carraizo, La Plata and Caonillas reservoirs, is approximately $250 million
combined. The cost of temporary repairs to the Guajataca dam caused by damages from Hurricane María is $80 million.

Increased funding is required to properly assess all dams. Many dams need a comprehensive assessment, which includes
hydrologic and hydraulic studies, seismic risk, and structural stability, among other factors, to fully determine the extent
of their risk. It is estimated that implementing a solution to address identified deficiencies, which can include redesign,
could cost up to $1 million per dam.

RESILIENCE AND INNOVATION


A resilient system recovers rapidly from challenges imposed by physical and economic factors, like hurricanes and
droughts. Since a major use for dams is water supply and droughts are continuously getting worse, it is imperative dams
be resilient. The water supply in the north and eastern regions is severely impacted by the droughts. For example, in 2015,
a drought forced hundreds of thousands of users in these regions to be limited to two days of water service per week.

Most dams were constructed before the 1960s. For these structures to be resilient, they must be assessed, upgraded, and
retrofitted. Furthermore, it is likely that Puerto Rico’s dams are not designed for seismic loads. Thus, a comprehensive
study and subsequent corrective measures must be undertaken.

Sedimentation creates capacity and lifespan challenges to local drinking water supplies. Although dredging reservoirs
could help increase their capacity, it will not permanently solve the problem. Additional cost-effective and long-term
mitigation measures must be implemented. One solution is the reconnection of diversions could increase the yield to the
superaqueduct, assist with the north coast water supply, and minimize future sedimentation.

Another proposed measure is the implementation of a yearly dredging plan to remove sediment at a rate greater than the
sedimentation rate. This practice would reduce overuse of surface and ground water, including the drawdown from
reservoirs during dry seasons.

Another possible solution to problems such as sediment transportation, water capacity, hydroelectric generation, and
others, is to evaluate and model the installation of a hydraulic barrier system. The installation of these barriers in strategic
locations reduce the flow of sediment trapping it before reaching the dams. The sediment is then removed periodically by
mechanical means. This tactic could help reduce the sedimentation rate of the reservoirs.

There are multiple solutions for current infrastructure challenges. The formation of a committee consisting of the Corps
of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation along with the owners (PREPA, PRASA, Natural Resources Department and the
Puerto Rico Government), and experts could help provide technical assistance for dams infrastructure. Using this
multiagency taskforce to implement resilient, innovating and sustainable solutions could be the key to improving the
overall grade. Moreover, the technical assist that can provide federal agencies may alleviate economic burden in local
agencies/staff.

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/PUERTO-RICO | 21
Figure 6: Guajataca Dam (photo by US Army Corps of Engineers)

RECOMMENDATIONS
1. A committee consisting of the Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation along with the owners (PREPA,
PRASA, Natural Resources Department and the Puerto Rico Government) should be formed to implement strategy
plans, provide technical expertise, and assist with the rehabilitation of the dams.
2. Increase the funding associated with operations and maintenance, rehabilitation, and the implementation of the
mitigation measures. Explore innovative solutions that increase capacity and lifespan with long term and cost-
effective mitigation measures that do not rely in dredging alone.
3. Increase the resiliency of the dams with proper management, operation, and inspection along with frequent EAP
testing (rehearsals).
4. Increase funding for comprehensive studies to fully assess the current condition.
5. Create a knowledge retention program to seamlessly train, and transfer experience and knowledge, to future
employees. This pathway program will help conserve best practices and lessons learned through the years.
6. Rehabilitate, maintain and maximize the use of hydropower resources in the system.

SOURCES
1. Go To Puerto Rico Dam Safety Program Homepage: Association of State Dam Safety. (2018). Retrieved from
https://damsafety.org/puerto-rico
2. Morris, G. (2019). A Sustainable Water Supply Strategy: The Interconnected North Coast of Puerto Rico.
3. National Inventory of Dams. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://nid.sec.usace.army.mil/ords/f?p=105:1::::::
4. Ortiz, M. (2019, October 28). Integral Plan of Water Resources of Puerto Rico. Retrieved from
http://www.drna.pr.gov/oficinas/plan-integral-de-recursos-de-agua-de-puerto-rico/
5. Quiñones, F. (2013, March). Sedimentation of the Packaging of Puerto Rico and Alternatives for Draging and
Maintenance. Retrieved from
http://www.recursosaguapuertorico.com/LOS_EMBALSES_DE_PUERTO_RICO__15Mar2013.pdf
6. Zayas, J. O., Quinones, F., Palacios, S., Velez, A., & Mas, H. (2004, March 4). Characteristics and Condition of the
Main Reservoirs in Puerto Rico. Retrieved from
http://www.recursosaguapuertorico.com/Los_Embalses_en_Puerto_Rico__2004__por_Jorge_F__Ortiz__Ferdinand
_Qui__ones_y_otros.pdf

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/PUERTO-RICO | 22
Drinking Water D
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Public water systems serve approximately 96 percent of Puerto Rico’s 3.3 million residents, with the remainder served by
rural and remote small community-operated systems. Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) owns and
operates much of the complex infrastructure network and faces significant challenges. Approximately 59 percent of
treated water ends up as non-revenue water loss, meaning the utility is providing it to customers at no charge through
various mechanisms such as inaccurate meters, unauthorized water consumption, or water main leaks. It should be noted
PRASA has improved its non-revenue water loss rate, which stood at 62 percent five years ago. While water quality
continues to improve as new processes are implemented in response to stricter regulations and public expectations,
hurricanes have aggravated an already difficult fiscal and operational situation for both PRASA and non-PRASA systems.
PRASA will undertake a $2 billion capital improvement program over the next five years, with one-third of funding
allocated to repair damage and a significant amount set aside for resiliency.

INTRODUCTION
The main provider of water in Puerto Rico is PRASA, a government corporation. PRASA is a complex utility with 4,654
employees that serves 1.24 million customers. The utility operates 114 filtration plants with 143 intakes, eight dams, 1,607
tanks, 1,766 water pumping stations, 233 water wells, and approximately 1,500 miles of water pipelines. These systems
work together to deliver water to homes, business, and fire hydrants, without interruptions, that meets U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) public health standards.

PRASA’s mission became exponentially more difficult after Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the island in September
2017, causing massive flooding, overwhelming water treatment plants, and depriving hundreds of thousands of residents
of safe drinking water for weeks, or sometimes even months.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria’s impact on PRASA’s fiscal condition can be summarized as:
• Revenue reduction: $ 271 million
• Incremental expenses: $ 396 million
• Capital Investment Program for damage repair: $ 461 million

PRASA has significant capital needs, especially in the aftermath of the hurricanes. Funding needs include the development
of new water supply projects, improvements to the water filtration plants, expansion of the distribution systems,
operation and maintenance, and process improvements for the water treatment plants to meet new water quality
regulations. Much of the water infrastructure is well into or beyond its expected service life. Responsible management of
these assets is crucial to maintaining an acceptable level of service.

Currently, there are at least 250+ non-PRASA system which receive some funding from the PRASA client fees for
compliance purposes. Rural and remote communities face significant challenges in terms of funding system improvements
and securing recovery funds from the U.S. federal government. Many of these entities are not legally incorporated and
some lack internet access – both necessities in order to qualify for and apply for recovery funding.

CONDITION
The condition of Puerto Rico’s drinking water infrastructure can be judged based on the age and functionality of plant
equipment, as well as the rate of water main leaks and pipe breaks. During the year 2018, 65,697 leaks and breaks were
reported, for an average of 4.38 leaks or breaks per mile of installed line. In general, PRASA’s system’s condition has
improved. However, significant challenges remain, and the system is rapidly aging.

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For example, one challenge PRASA faces is non-revenue water loss. The main causes for non-revenue water loss are
inaccurate meters, unauthorized water consumption, water consumption estimation, incomplete and non-precise
database, lack of proactive collections, leaks throughout the system, water tanks overflow, excessive water pressure, poor
O&M practices, lack of adequate leaks controls, and aged underground infrastructure.

The EPA reported in 2013 that average water loss in the U.S. is 16 percent. Unfortunately, non-revenue rates in Puerto
Rico are approximately 59 percent, far above the U.S. average. It should be noted that PRASA is making progress in this
area – its non-revenue water loss rate is down from 62 percent from five years ago.

PRASA’s 2014 Strategic Plan required annual water loss audit reporting to better develop a comprehensive water supply
and water conservation program. The goal was to allow Puerto Rico to efficiently meet water demands while reducing
water waste. Every gallon of water lost or wasted due to system inefficiencies comes at increasing cost to communities
and natural environments, especially in areas where demand may exceed supply. Leak detection, meter calibration, pipe
condition assessment, sectorization, and surveys of interconnections are just a few of the tools available to reduce water
loss. Reducing PRASA’s non-revenue water would help lessen capacity and supply challenges significantly, mitigating the
need for expansion in many areas.

CAPACITY AND FUTURE NEED


As of 2017, municipal and industrial water use totals in Puerto Rico averaged 507 million gallons per day (MGD). While
overall water usage is declining, some water sources are overused. For example, the southern aquifers provide water to
about 200,000 people, but drought and excessive water extraction severely reduce the available levels of supply. The
same is true of several of the main reservoirs during the drought season.

While the public is sensitive to water service issues, it is generally known that Puerto Rico’s water system has the ability
to meet current demands. Based on formalized water planning, the utility has suitable baseline data for developing future
supply and system capacity plans. The current status of these plans aligns with the reduction in demand due to decreasing
population.

OPERATION & MAINTENANCE


Reactive maintenance of public water systems occurs too frequently and could be avoided with better asset management
programs that rehabilitate and replace infrastructure before failures occur. PRASA has initiated the development of formal
asset management tools. Inventories of existing infrastructure, including condition assessment, are the first component
necessary for an effective asset management program.

PRASA serves approximately 100 customers per mile of pipe, compared with the U.S. average of 150 to 200 customers. A
low-density population challenges a drinking water utility because operation and maintenance needs are significant and
a smaller customer base impacts PRASA’s ability to help pay. Additionally, PRASA must contend with significant elevation
changes, which contributes to the utility’s large and complex infrastructure network.

PUBLIC HEALTH & SAFETY


Puerto Rico’s residents deservedly expect their water to be free of harmful contaminants, objectionable tastes, and odors.
By strictly following standards set by US EPA, the Puerto Rico Department of Health (PRDOH) regulates all public water on
the island. Compliance with water regulations in Puerto Rico is very high, with over 95% percent of public water systems
operating without health-based water quality violations.

Although compliance rates are very high, the ability to meet regulations is always dependent on the responsible operation
and maintenance of public water systems. Public health and safety has been threatened by catastrophic failures of large

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/PUERTO-RICO | 24
water infrastructure like dams and treatment plants, as was observed from hurricanes Irma and Maria. Through better
management and long-term planning, these risks can and are being diminished.

PRASA is focused on the provision of safe drinking water to safeguard the island’s public health and its environment.
Following the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Capital Improvement Program’s main goal has been to maintain water quality
and assure health and environmental compliance. Around $1 billion of PRASA’s 6-year CIP is focused on compliance and
the improvement of water quality and reliability. These projects include the improvement of filtration plant’s processes
as well as transmission and distribution pipelines.

As agreed in the 2015 Consent Decree with the EPA, PRASA’s prioritization system established the Regulatory Compliance
(water quality) category as the primary and most important consideration for project scoring. Furthermore, $551 million
in Renewal and Replacement FY2018 – FY2024 CIP is expected to be partially allocated for unforeseen infrastructure
repairs and additional water quality / non-mandatory compliance issues that may arise to ensure safeguarding health and
the environment.

FUNDING
Water utility rates are expected to provide nearly all the funding for operation, maintenance and expansion of water
systems. For any utility to be sustainable, rates must consider full life-cycle costs for services, rehabilitation of existing
assets and construction of new assets, in addition to debt service and other indirect costs.

From 1994 to 2005, mainly due to the lack of financial resources to cover its operation costs, PRASA depended on central
government allocations, which were insufficient to meet all needs. This situation affected the agency’s CIP, ultimately
resulting in non-compliance with federal and local environmental regulations. Treatment plants were fined, and new
project endorsements were held back.

Starting in 2006, new agreements with the regulatory agencies were signed, minimizing uncertainties in the compliance
processes and the payment of fines. However, as a consequence, new extraordinary compliance costs arrived:
• $ 3.4 billion over 15 years for compliance and capital improvements projects.
• $70 million annually for the operation of the Environmental Compliance Department and the Integrated
Maintenance Program.

The American Water Works Association (AWWA), the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), and the Water Environmental
Federation (WEF) have jointly established that environmental compliance is the main cause of rising water rates, due to
the investments needed to maintain compliance.

A short-term solution was implemented by PRASA based on an up-to-date rate study by a qualified financial consultant.
In 2015, Raftelis Financial Consultants, Inc. recommended increasing PRASA water service rates by 2.5 percent annually
for the next 10 years as a way to address actual and increasing operating costs with the availability of funds. The water
rate depends on the amount consumed, with the minimum drinking water rate starting at $1.36 per cubic meter, with a
maximum tariff of $3.58 per cubic meter PRASA rates are tiered to encourage water conservation and includes minimum
charges to cover costs that are not affected by demand. Increased rates in addition to operational and organizational
changes to reduce costs should eventually place the agency in condition to access the financial market.

PRASA funding also includes federal programs like the Community Development Block Grant Program, the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund, and USDA Rural Development Programs. Many of
these funds or financing are received directly by either the municipalities or the Central Government that also develop
water infrastructure in coordination with and using the standards set by PRASA.

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/PUERTO-RICO | 25
A new fiscal plan for a six-year period starting in FY2018 outlines cash management levels that PRASA will use to improve
its liquidity. The plan anticipates PRASA will increase revenues while reducing expenses, work with insurance agencies and
the federal government to secure disaster funding, increase collection (particularly from government entities), and reduce
non-reimbursable maintenance expenses. PRASA will also negotiate a restructuring of its debt obligations to improve its
cash position.

PRASA will undertake a $2 billion CIP over the next five years, with one third allocated to repair damage and a significant
amount set aside for resiliency. This CIP also includes compliance and repair projects designed to improve drinking water
quality as well as to prevent leakage throughout PRASA’s distribution networks.

To achieve long-term financial sustainability, improve water quality, and increase resiliency, the new fiscal plan requires
PRASA to invest $303 million to reduce commercial and physical non-revenue water losses; invest up to $3.4 billion in
hazard mitigation, safety, water availability, redundancy, management of critical assets and simplify and consolidate its
infrastructure; spend $2 billion to increase automation of water treatment plant operations and water quality; and provide
$100 million to adopt distributed solar generation and hydroelectric power generation.

RESILIENCE
Hurricanes Irma and Maria resulted in heavy damage to parts of Puerto Rico’s drinking water infrastructure network.
Portions of existing systems must be repaired and rebuilt and doing so should require rethinking how to build those
systems to withstand stronger and more frequent hurricanes in the future.

Water rationing during the drought season is also a nearly annual concern for the island, despite heavy rainfall during the
wet season. Some of the primary raw water source for PRASA water treatment plants are reservoirs maintained by eight
dams owned and operated by PRASA. Another 18 dams are owned by the Electric Power Authority and are used for
hydroelectric energy production, agricultural irrigation, and raw water supply for PRASA’s plants. Almost all the dams have
lost considerable storage capacity, 40 to 60 percent, due to sedimentation and poor operation and maintenance. The
water shortage problem is exasperated by an over-extraction from deep wells, especially in the southern region, and the
economically motivated closure of others.

Water systems in Puerto Rico are further challenged by the lack of qualified workers. PRASA will need to grow their own
qualified candidates or market the utility to attract qualified personnel and technicians. The utility is challenged by an
exodus of skilled workers from Puerto Rico to the U.S. mainland and other places with better working conditions. The
water resources discipline is becoming increasingly complex and technical qualifications should be reflected in recruitment
and training programs. The body of knowledge is essential to keep pace with the needs of the system and the public it
serves.

Higher levels of raw and processed water storage, and evaluation of additional and alternative sources of water supply
are part of PRASA’s Strategic Plan due in 2024. Accordingly, redundancy and reliability achieved by the interconnection of
adjacent water systems should be scheduled in a capital program and implemented.

RECOMMENDATIONS
• Improve underground water management to stabilize and control wells’ firm yield and aquifer storage and
recovery, especially in the southern region.
• Improve conjunctive use of surface and ground water. Specifically, improve hydrographic basin management to
control erosion and reduce sedimentation into the dams. Strategic management and water supply source
protection will improve quality. Watershed protection plans are needed to lessen potential impacts to source
water and reservoirs and reduce costs of drinking water treatment.

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/PUERTO-RICO | 26
• Restore storage capacity of water supply reservoirs: Puerto Rico has a high grade of rain and runoff. Some of the
main raw water reservoirs have lost significant capacity due to sedimentation. Sedimentation management such
as dredging, sluicing, etc. programs/projects are urgently needed to restore the existing capacity. Construction
and/or expansion of reservoirs and/or water storage tanks should be programmed to retain greater amounts of
runoff water for use during the drought season. Reservoirs in the east-central and western areas of the island
were proposed many years ago without an effective effort to construct them.
• Reduce Unaccounted Water: PRASA estimates that 58 percent of the processed water is not accounted for. About
42 percent is considered lost through leaks in pipes, tank overflow, etc. A rehabilitation and replacement program
should be a major consideration to control these losses. Also, system sectorization projects should be expanded
and continued to effectively reduce these losses. Furthermore, improve meters in treatment plants and wells to
account for real raw water intake and treated water distribution.
• Install emergency electric energy generators at all water pumping stations, wells, and filtration plants. Besides
that, evaluate the options to have alternative energy source from PREPA.
• Actualize and maintain updated infrastructure records to improve operation of the systems and reduce service
interruptions. This includes a program to uncover the thousands of lost house water meters.
• Workforce development: training courses on advanced technology and tools will be necessary to keep pace with
stricter regulatory requirements, replace a much-reduced workforce, and attract a limited recruitment pool.
Position descriptions and qualifications should reflect the increasing technical complexities of the field.

REFERENCES
1. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Financial Information and Operating Data Report. (2016, December 18).
http://www.gdb.pr.gov/documents/CommonwealthofPuertoRicoFinancialInfoFY201612-18-16.pdf
2. Cruzado, R. W. R. (2019, January 24). Is a water crisis coming?
https://www.elnuevodia.com/opinion/columnas/seavecinaunacrisisdeagua-columna-2472589/
3. GARCIA-GREGORY, J. (2016, May 23). United States v. Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority.
http://www.acueductospr.com/download/EPA-PRASA/USvsPRASA_3-15_CV_02283_JAG.pdf
4. Government, P. R. (2018, March 23). Revised Fiscal Plan to Incorporate Modifications to the Certified Fiscal Plan
as a Result of the Impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. http://www.aafaf.pr.gov/assets/prasa-revised-fiscal-
plan-march-2018---draft.pdf
5. Morris, D. G. (n.d.). 8. A sustainable water supply strategy: The Interconnected North Coast of PR.
6. RAFTELIS FINANCIAL CONSULTANTS, INC. (2016). Professional Opinion Report: Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer
Authority. https://www.acueductospr.com/NUESTRAAUTORIDAD/download/plandecenal/Apéndice B - PRASA-
Professional-Opinion-Report.pdf
7. Soderberg, C. (2018, November 8). A Strategic Resource at High Risk.
https://www.elnuevodia.com/opinion/columnas/unrecursoestrategicoenaltoriesgo-columna-2458175/
8. 2014-2018 PRASA Strategic Plan
9. Interviews with PRASA Officials
10. Visits to PRASA installations

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/PUERTO-RICO | 27
Energy F

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Leading up to Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, Puerto Rico’s energy infrastructure was in poor condition. The island
also lacked source diversity; approximately 98 percent of electricity was generated by fossil fuels. Still, average electricity
prices exceeded $0.19/kWh, roughly double U.S. rates. After Hurricane Maria devastated the energy grid and contributed
to the second-longest blackout in recorded history, authorities focused their efforts on the short-term goal of restoring
power as quickly as possible. However, the long-term need for developing a resilient and sustainable energy grid was
overlooked. Today’s network is fragile, blackouts are frequent, and prices have continued to increase. Even modest wind
events have the potential to render the current energy grid inoperable and Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority lacks
access to the capital needed to improve grid condition, capacity, and resiliency, making federal support imperative.

ASCE supports recent findings from the U.S. GAO that any grid investment needs to be accompanied by policy, guidance,
and regulations that yield grid resilience consistent with consensus industry standards. To facilitate smart building, ASCE
has published a series of codes and standards for grid design and construction to better enable Puerto Rico’s energy
infrastructure to withstand future storms and other stresses. It is imperative that lifecycle cost methods, redundant power
supplies and communications channels, and quality controls be included in decision-making and implementation to lessen
the impacts of future storms. Proven renewable energy and advanced “smart grid” technologies must also be included.

INTRODUCTION
Puerto Rico’s Energy Infrastructure grade of an “F” was driven by poor existing conditions, insufficient capacity and
redundancy, inadequate restoration following 2017 hurricanes, poor maintenance and investment strategies, and a need
for system-wide improvements. The lack of a reliable energy infrastructure today is greatly impacting human life and
commerce, contributing to continued economic hardship and ever-growing financial crisis.

It is important to understand the geography and topography of the Caribbean island to see that Puerto Rico has one of
the most complex energy distribution systems in the United States and its Territories. Most of Puerto Rico’s energy is
produced by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA). PREPA serves near 1.5 million customers.

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/PUERTO-RICO | 28
Electrical grids carry power from the south to the northern metropolitan areas. A lack of maintenance along the
transmission and distribution lines and a failure to build to appropriate standards contributes to system-wide collapses
during heavy wind events. During hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, the energy network failed, and Puerto Rico residents
experienced the longest blackout in the U.S. history, lasting nearly a year. While power has been restored, the grid
continues to be unreliable and vulnerable to even minor storms.

CAPACITY & CONDITION


Most of Puerto Rico’s energy is produced
by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority
(PREPA) and generated in four main power
plants: Costa Sur, Complejo Aguirre, San
Juan and Palo Seco. In addition to PREPA,
Puerto Rico also utilizes energy produced
by a few private companies that sell to
PREPA.

The transmission system consists of 2,478


miles of 230KV / 115KV transmission lines
and 38KV sub-transmission lines
connected, with 48 transmission centers.
The system includes 38 kV, 13 kV, 8 kV and
4kV distribution lines totaling
approximately 31,446 air miles and 1,723
underground miles; part of this system is
made up of 293 substations and 27
technical offices.

Most of PREPA power plants are over 40 years old. However, old machinery and instruments are not always synonymous
with inefficiency. Equipment can sometimes be combined with others to improve service. For example, a few PREPA power
generation plants were converted to natural gas and combined cycle systems were integrated.

Electrical grids carry power from the south to northern metropolitan areas, which are home to most of the island’s
residents. High dependency on big electrical grids brings concern about service reliability and overall delivery of power.

In September 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall at Yabucoa as a Category 4, but the National Hurricane Center
recognized that in some high places, Category 5 winds could have been felt. Consequently, much of Puerto Rico’s electric
grid was destroyed, so that even undamaged generators could not supply power. Electricity generation dropped by 60
percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 when compared to the same period in 2016. Prior to Hurricane Maria, the existing
grid was in disrepair and experienced frequent outages, but due to the 2017 atmospheric events, the electric grid reached
the point of total failure.

Following Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rican authorities focused their efforts on the short-term goal of restoring power as
quickly as possible. However, as a result, the long-term need for developing and distributing resilient and sustainable
energy sources was overlooked.

SOURCES OF ENERGY
Imported oil and gas are the backbone of Puerto Rico’s economy. Puerto Rico produces energy using petroleum, 47
percent; natural gas, 34 percent; coal, 17 percent; and renewable, 2 percent. The demand for imported energy reinforces
Puerto Rico’s need for resilient seaports and airports. Contrary to direct distribution of natural gas to users, Puerto Rico’s

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/PUERTO-RICO | 29
power plants convert natural gas into electricity, which is then distributed to citizens. This approach avoids the economic
and environmental consequences related to pipe cracking. However, without natural gas distribution lines, our
population’s dependence on the grid as the only source of energy is more pronounced.

In the near term, oil and gas continue to be vital to Puerto Rico’s economy, so it is imperative to invest in related facilities,
implement routine maintenance checks, as well as make improvements based on the age of the power plants. Without
adequate energy infrastructure investment, Puerto Ricans will continue to see energy-related problems impact their daily
lives, driving down productivity and morale.

SOURCES OF ENERGY
Petroleum Natural Gas Coal Renewable

2%

17%

47%

34%

Figure 7. PREPA's

FUNDING
In August of 2017, Puerto Rican officials estimated that $1.6 billion was needed in overall infrastructure investment to
meet the economic goals needed to prevent bankruptcy. A month later, Hurricane Maria’s impact increased the funding
required to improve the infrastructure. PREPA proposed a $20 billion plan to renovate the energy grid on the island,
however, the total amount could be lower. Thus far, funding has been provided to restore electricity access, but the
resulting grid is fragile, and blackouts are frequent.

The principal funding for PREPA is rates paid by users, including residences, the manufacturing sector, pharmaceutical and
medical devices companies, hotels, and retail, among others.

Due to the elimination of Section 936, a law that gave U.S. corporations some tax advantages if they based some part of
their company operations in Puerto Rico, hundreds of industries closed, and energy consumption decreased. This resulted
in reduced income for PREPA. As the economy deteriorated, population declined, and disruptive technologies emerged,
demand for electricity dropped by 18 percent from 2007 to 2017. On July 2, 2017, the Financial Oversight and
Management Board (PROMESA) filed a petition seeking bankruptcy protection for PREPA and establishing an in-court
process for restructuring debt that is modeled after the process under chapter 9 of the U.S. Bankruptcy code.

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/PUERTO-RICO | 30
Figure 8. Consumption Through Years

In May 2019, a deal was reached between PREPA and the Financial Oversite and Management Board (FOMB) of Puerto
Rico to settle approximately $8 billion in legacy debt. Under the deal, rates per kWh will increase annually and the new
revenue will be used to pay off debts. The agreement further stipulates that residents and customers generating their
own electricity through solar panels will still pay an annual fee towards paying down PREPA’s debt. The deal has been
criticized for putting a significant financial burden on residents; Puerto Ricans already pay 22 centers per kWh of electricity,
compared to 12 cents on average nationally. This deal would raise electric prices to 32 cents per kWh. Due to the increased
rate of the kWh, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) could increase by 1.22% - 2.47%. Additionally, new revenue would go
towards paying down old debt, rather than investing in a resilient and sustainable future network.

FUTURE NEED
Besides paying down PREPA’s debt, significant funding is
needed to strengthen the grid against future storms, add
generation capacity, and rebuild and upgrade
transmission and distribution lines. However, the timing
of expenditures and disbursements from the Government
of Puerto Rico is still uncertain an initial disbursement of
$2 billion was approved with 100 percent FEMA cost-
share. Puerto Rico is requesting a cost-share adjustment
for future FEMA’s program amounts under the Stafford
Act, but even with these adjustments, projects will still
require a 10 percent cost-share match from PREPA.
Puerto Rico is seeking Community Development Block
Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding to cover the Figure 9. Hurricane Maria Damages Year 2017
cost-share match requirements of Stafford Act programs.
It is worth noting that historically, either FEMA or Congress has authorized a 100 percent federal cost-share for large and
catastrophic disasters such as Hurricane Andrew in Florida and Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Moving forward, there is legislation to privatize PREPA. The effects of this legislation are generally unknown and only will
reveal themselves as PREPA assets are sold to private companies.

PUBLIC SAFETY
Following Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico experienced the longest blackout in American history and the second-longest
blackout across the world. The failure of the electric grid meant residents were unable to use medical equipment. The

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/PUERTO-RICO | 31
energy network’s failure difficulted aid response and recovery efforts after the storm and caused public safety concerns
for months.

RESILIENCE
Given its location and susceptibility to natural hazards, Puerto
Rico’s infrastructure must be more resilient than a majority of
mainland America’s. The need for more resilient infrastructure,
coupled with bankruptcy, has led to current infrastructure that
fails to meet citizens’ demands. Due to time constraints and
insufficient funding, Puerto Rican officials focus on short-term
restoration without the ability to ensure long-term
sustainability. Adopting the ASCE 7 codes and standards could
help the energy grid become more resilient to future storms.
ASCE 7 is the means for determining, soil, flood, tsunami, snow,
rain, atmospheric ice, earthquake, and wind loads, and their
combinations for general structural design. These codes and
standards are critical to ensuring infrastructure remains
functional and able to facilitate emergency response and
recovery after a major storm event.

INNOVATION
There were attempts prior to Maria to focus on renewable energy, but that has since halted. There has been attention
since Maria to microgrids and Puerto Rican officials have contracted out the installation of microgrids in certain places.
The idea of incorporating microgrid systems is that in the event of a new emergency such as that caused by Hurricane
Maria, each micro-network works independently. Tesla has helped install microgrids into small communities. While there
is a role for microgrids on the island, especially for rural villages to ensure electrical autonomy to help avoid large-scale
blackouts, professionals from the energy sector can’t guarantee that microgrids can solve Puerto Rico’s energy problems.

Two wind farms supplied 41 percent of Puerto Rico’s renewable generation in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017. One
of them, the 95-megawatt Santa Isabel facility, is the largest wind farm in the Caribbean. Both wind farms were heavily
destroyed by hurricanes Irma and Maria.

RECOMMENDATIONS:
• Adopt consensus industry standards with at least a 160-mph design wind speed such as those produced by ASCE
to enhance complete energy system resilience to storms, harden existing infrastructure that is re-usable (e.g.,
the newer gas-fired generating plants), and implement a design/construction plan that includes necessary
controls to yield long-term resilience;
• Utilize smart grid technologies, redundant power delivery, and hardened communications to ensure that future
storm recovery is timely and with minimal disruption to critical facilities such as police/fire stations and hospitals
(considering redundancy offered by local microgrids);
• Increase use of readily available solar and wind generation to reduce carbon emissions and provide a diverse
backbone of power generation resources;
• Establish a transparent and auditable plan/timeline for energy infrastructure investment that allows third-party
verification that lifecycle benefits and long-term resiliency are achieved.

REFERENCES
1. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www2.aeepr.com/Aeees/sistema_electrico.asp

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/PUERTO-RICO | 32
2. Alvarado León, G. (2019, February 20). La Autoridad de Energía Eléctrica presenta su plan a 20 años.
Retrieved from
https://www.elnuevodia.com/noticias/locales/nota/laautoridaddeenergiaelectricapresentasuplana20anos-
2477783/
3. Alvarado León, G. (2019, February 20). La Autoridad de Energía Eléctrica presenta su plan a 20 años.
Retrieved from
https://www.elnuevodia.com/noticias/locales/nota/laautoridaddeenergiaelectricapresentasuplana20anos-
2477783/
4. Día, E. N. (2017, August 25). Infrastructure as an investment for the Island. Retrieved from
https://www.elnuevodia.com/english/english/nota/infrastructureasaninvestmentfortheisland- 2352095/
5. Fox-Penner, P. (2017, November 10). Why Puerto Rico's Power Can't Come From Solar 'Microgrids'
Alone. Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/why-puerto-ricos-power-cant-come-
from-solar-microgrids-alone-180967176/
6. Gonzalez, J. (2017, November 22). Report reveals deplorable conditions of infrastructure. Retrieved from
https://www.elnuevodia.com/english/english/nota/reportrevealsdeplorableconditionsofinfrastruct ure-
2376356/
7. Hernández, A. R. (2018, April 18). Puerto Rico back in darkness after island-wide blackout. Retrieved.
Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/puerto-rico-back-in-darkness-after-island-wide-
blackout/2018/04/18/479b520e-4321-11e8-8569
26fda6b404c7_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.93ee2dbff1e0
8. Irfan, U. (2018, April 15). Puerto Rico's blackout is now the second largest on record worldwide. Retrieved
from https://www.vox.com/2018/4/13/17229172/puerto-rico-blackout-hurricane-maria
9. Irfan, U. (2018, May 8). Puerto Rico's blackout, the largest in American history, explained. Retrieved from
https://www.vox.com/2018/2/8/16986408/puerto-rico-blackout-power-hurricane
10. Gonzalez, J. (2019, September 6). El pacto entre la AEE y sus bonistas azotará el bolsillo boricua.
Retrieved from
https://www.elnuevodia.com/negocios/consumo/nota/elpactoentrelaaeeysusbonistasazotaraelbolsilloboricu
a-2516184/
11. Alvarado León,G. El Nuevo Dia (2019, October 2). Apagones por Altas Temperaturas y Falta de
mantenimiento. Retrieved from
https://www.elnuevodia.com/noticias/locales/nota/unidadesfueradeserviciofaltademantenimientoydiascalurososs
onloscausantesdelosapagones-2521129/
12. Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. (2018, March 21). Retrieved from
http://www.aafaf.pr.gov/assets/prepa-fiscal-plan-march-2018---draft.pdf
13. Puerto Rico Territory Energy Profile. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.eia.gov/state/print.php?sid=RQ
14. Reports and Presentations. (2019, September 16). Retrieved from http://energia.pr.gov/en/presentations/

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/PUERTO-RICO | 33
Ports D
EXCUTIVE SUMMARY
Puerto Rico—an island in the Caribbean—is highly dependent on maritime transportation to import most of its supplies.
This makes ports infrastructure critical. Ninety-eight percent of the island’s electricity comes from imported petroleum,
natural gas, and coal. Approximately 80 percent of the island’s food is currently imported. Ports also play an important
role in the tourism industry; FY2018 closed with a total of approximately 1.2 million cruise ship visitors and an approximate
contribution of $152 million to the economy. The importance of ports was especially noticeable after Hurricane Maria hit
the island in September 2017, since they played a critical role in the delivery of first aid supplies. Puerto Rico’s already
fragile ports infrastructure suffered severe damage as a result of the hurricane. The estimated cost to repair all ports
throughout the island is over $750 million. However, the capital improvement program for FY2020-2024 provides just over
$2 million in investments.

INTRODUCTION
The Puerto Rico Ports Authority (PRPA) is one of the main government agencies responsible for supporting the island’s
economy. The agency is tasked with the administration of multiple ports and airports which handle a large number of
passengers and cargo. The table below shows the main ports for which the PRPA is responsible:

Port Main Use


San Juan Piers 1, 3 & 4 Cruise ships
San Juan Pan American Piers 1 & 2 Cruise ships
San Juan Pier 10 Goods and materials export
San Juan Piers 11-14 Construction materials shipments
San Juan Navy Frontier Pier Cruise ships, car-carriers, mega yachts
Isla Grande Port Container shipments
San Juan Pier 15-16 Container shipments, car shipments
Puerto Nuevo Army Terminal Pier Container shipments
Puerto Nuevo Piers A-H, J-O Container shipments (fuel, food, wood, etc.)
Arecibo Port Fuel shipments
Yabucoa Port Fuel shipments
Guayama Port Fuel shipments
Guánica Port Fertilizer material shipments
Guayanilla Port Chemicals, asphalt, propane gas, and fuel shipments
Table 1: PRPA’s Main Ports

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CAPACITY
Most of the cruise ship industry is concentrated in San Juan, since Old San Juan is its main tourist attraction. The ports
that are currently operating as homeports or port of call for cruise ships in San Juan Bay are Piers 1, 3, 4, and Pan-American
Piers 1 and 2. The term “home port” refers to the port where a cruise ship begins and ends its voyage, while a “port of
call” refers to a port where a cruise ship docks in the course of its voyage to load or unload passengers or cargo. The table
below shows the average calls per year from 2013-2017 for these ports:

Piers Current Use Homeport Port of Call


Pier 1 Port of Call/Homeport 20 25
Pier 3 Port of Call 0 123
Pier 4 Port of Call/Homeport 59 153
Pan American Piers Home Port 106 2
Table 2: Average Cruise Ship Calls Per Year

As shown in the table above, these ports handle a high volume of cruise ships each year and it is essential to the island’s
tourism industry that port infrastructure remain in good operating condition.

Puerto Rico is also highly dependent on maritime transportation to import goods that are essential to its population. The
island mainly imports chemicals, oil, food, electrical appliances, machinery and equipment, transport vehicles, and
plastics. Approximately 80% of the island’s food is currently imported. San Juan handles a high amount of cargo each year
which is mostly received through the Puerto Nuevo ports. The table below shows the number of ships, trips, and
containers received through San Juan:

Cargo Maritime Traffic – San Juan Ports


Fiscal Year Number of Ships Trips Number of Containers
2017 164 2,861 1,319,572
2018 254 3,513 1,290,158
2019 (through April 2019) 144 2,593 1,200,196
Total 562 8,967 3,809,926
Table 3: Cargo Maritime Traffic in San Juan

The energy sector is also highly dependent on fuel imports. About three-fourths of the energy used in Puerto Rico comes
from petroleum products, which are all imported, principally through the ports of San Juan, Guayanilla, and Ponce. For
FY2017, petroleum supplied just under half of the island's electricity, while natural gas supplied nearly one-third, coal
about one-sixth, and renewables about 2.4%. The table below shows the number of fuel ships received in Puerto Rico
from FY2015-2019:
Fuel Ship Traffic – Puerto Rico Ports
Fiscal Year Number of Ships
2015 199
2016 245
2017 212
2018 257
2019 216
Total 1,129
Table 4: Fuel Ship Maritime Traffic in Puerto Rico

This data shows the important role that maritime transportation plays in Puerto Rico. It is essential to the island’s economy
that ports that are capable of receiving a high number of ships each year remain in good operating condition.

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/PUERTO-RICO | 35
FUNDING AND FUTURE NEED
After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico’s already fragile ports infrastructure suffered severe damage. After the hurricane, PRPA
engaged independent professional services to perform an assessment of the infrastructure’s condition and to develop
cost estimates for repairs at multiple cruise ship ports in San Juan. The results of the assessment show an estimated cost
of over $290 million to repair the cruise ship piers, which include Piers 1, 3, 4, 11-14, and Pan American 1 and 2. The scope
of the repairs includes pier structural repairs, wharf & utilities repairs, mechanical works, and electrical works, among
others. As evident by their yearly capacity, Piers 4 and Pan-American 1 and 2 are essential to PRPA and the estimated
repair costs of each pier is over $136 million for Pier 4, and over $28 million for Pan-American 1 and 2.

Currently, the PRPA is capable of docking a maximum of eight cruise ships at a time in the San Juan Bay. Piers 11-14 are
currently not being used for cruise ships due to their poor infrastructure condition. An estimated investment of over $70
million is necessary to repair these piers and bring them back to operating conditions. Allocating the necessary funds to
rehabilitate these piers will enable PRPA to increase their cruise ship capacity in the San Juan Bay since these piers are
capable of berthing two additional vessels.

In addition to the assessment performed for the cruise ship ports in San Juan, a condition assessment was also performed
in 2018 by the private sector for all other ports currently administered by the PRPA, including municipal-owned facilities
in Mayaguez and Ponce. The results of the assessment, which does not differentiate between post-Maria damage and
regular deferred maintenance, estimated costs of up to $345 million to repair all ports. Most of these ports are essential
since they handle a large number of imported goods as well as providing better access points to municipalities throughout
the island in the event of a natural disaster. The PRPA currently has a capital improvement program for FY2020-2024 with
a total investment of just over $1 million. When compared to the estimated costs to repair all ports provided in the
previously mentioned condition assessment, it is evident that the PRPA is in need of more funding in order to make the
necessary repair to all ports.

Another agency that manages port facilities is the Puerto Rico Maritime Transport Authority (PRMTA). This agency is
responsible for providing maritime transportation services from San Juan to Cataño, and from Ceiba to the island-
municipalities of Vieques and Culebra. Maintaining PRMTA ports in good operating condition is crucial since ferry
transportation is the main service used to transport passengers and cargo to and from the island-municipalities. A
condition assessment was performed in 2018 for piers that belong to the PRMTA and an estimated repair cost totaled $53
million. The piers and facilities included in the aforementioned repair cost are Pier 2 in San Juan, Mosquito Pier in Vieques,
the operations building and Pier 2 in Ceiba, and PRMTA’s maintenance facility in Isla Grande. The PRMTA currently has a
capital improvement program for FY2020-2024 with a total investment of over $1.3 million.

Figure 1: San Juan Bay Channels

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Funding is also required in order to perform the required dredging of San Juan Bay. Dredging is required to maintain the
necessary depth in the San Juan bay channels (illustrated in Figure 1) and is key for vessel access to the piers. Due to
increasing vessel sizes, existing cruise vessel operators experience increased in-port maneuvering costs due to channel
and turning basin width and depth constraints. In August 2017, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) prepared an
integrated feasibility and environmental study for the widening and deepening of the navigation channels and turning
areas. On August 18, 2018, USACE recommended the final program to Congress. The program will allow larger vessels to
enter the port and increase overall safety. The total cost for the program is estimated around $553 million out of which
approximately $54 million is related to dredging works. Construction is expected to begin by 2022. USACE is also currently
finalizing plans to perform dredging in the Mayaguez harbor, Arecibo harbor and Rio Puerto Nuevo.

PUBLIC SAFETY AND RESILIENCE


It is evident that Hurricane Maria caused significant damage to the port’s infrastructure in Puerto Rico. In addition to
permanent repairs, recovery efforts should also focus on mitigation and resiliency. In the event of a future natural disaster,
it is imperative that Puerto Rico’s ports remain operational since they serve as an important access point. Improving the
resiliency of coastal structures typically involves the principal tasks of raising the elevation of their critical components
(e.g. finished, mechanical/electrical infrastructure, floor elevation of buildings, etc.) above the flood zone to avoid flood
hazards and potential sea level rise. Since most of these piers have outdated structures, it is essential that the proper
investment is allocated to bring their structures up to ASCE recommended codes. Furthermore, funding is necessary for
projects that enhance resiliency to help create effective disaster implementation plans and exercises for restoring normal
operations.

RECOMMENDATIONS
• Repair and rehabilitate Piers 11-14 in order to increase San Juan Bay’s capacity for cruise ships.
• Invest in resiliency improvements for critical piers throughout the island.
• Invest and develop Ponce’s port to increase tourism in the municipality and southern region.

REFERENCES
1. 80% of food consumed in Puerto Rico is imported. (2018, March 20). Retrieved from
https://www.efe.com/efe/usa/puerto-rico/el-80-de-alimentos-que-se-consumen-en-puerto-rico-son-
importados/50000110-3559459
2. Fastest Growing Cruise Region is Caribbean for 2019. (2019, January 31). Retrieved from
https://www.cruiseindustrynews.com/cruise-news/20295-fastest-growing-cruise-region-is-caribbean-for-2019.html
3. Miranda, M. (2019, March 18). Puerto Rico sets cruise passenger record in January. Retrieved from
https://caribbeanbusiness.com/puerto-rico-sets-cruise-passenger-record-in-january/
4. Puerto Rico Imports. (2019, May). Retrieved from https://tradingeconomics.com/puerto-rico/imports
5. Puerto Rico Ports Authority. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.prpa.pr.gov/Pages/default.aspx
6. U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis. (2018, July 19). Retrieved from
https://www.eia.gov/state/analysis.php?sid=RQ

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/PUERTO-RICO | 37
ROADS D-
SUMMARY
Puerto Rico has struggled in recent years to adequately maintain its roadway network, in part because of a reduction in
personnel and partially due to a lack of dedicated funding for road preservation and maintenance. The lack of a data-
driven asset management plan also hurts long-term road management policies and projects. Additionally, the island allows
much heavier trucks on its roadways than much of the mainland U.S, which leads to quicker degradation of pavement and
bridges. Making matters worse, often Puerto Rico’s local municipal roads are built without the necessary supervision or
quality control standards, which lead to early pavement failure. Pavement maintenance and resurfacing activities on local
municipal roads could be substantially improved by promoting quality control standards and providing appropriate project
supervision and management. Puerto Rico is currently restructuring its debt through Title III protections under PROMESA,
which has allowed the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority (PRHTA) to direct its resources to improvement
projects on state roads. However, in order to maintain its assets in a state of good repair and continue normal operations,
PRHTA estimates that it will need $3.1 billion of capital expenditures from FY18 to FY23. Additionally, funding from the
federal government and a more strategic approach to maintenance is necessary in the near-term.

CAPACITY
The Puerto Rico road network is divided into different classifications, including the National Highway System (NHS), state
highways, and municipal roads.

The Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority (PRHTA) submitted the Highway Performance Monitoring System
(HPMS) report for year 2017.The HPMS report states that Puerto Rico has a total of 18,358 road miles. State highways
make up 5,078 miles (27.66%) of the road network, while the NHS is limited to 781 miles (only 4.26% of the network).
Most of the highway network is composed of municipal roads.

Quick Facts:
Classification Length(miles)
The total Puerto Rico
NHS-Interstate 284.6 State highways make up
highway network is
NHS-Non-Intersate 496.62 27.66% of the network; state
divided into:
Non-NHS 4,296.96 highways are divided into
17.38% rural
Municipal System 13,280.02 31% rural and 69% urban.
82.62% urban
Total 18,358.20
Table 1 Quick Facts about PR road network

As stated in the 2019-2023 Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP), “The Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and
Public Works’ (PRDTPW) data indicates that Puerto Rico has approximately 2.8 million registered vehicles and 2.1 million
licensed drivers”.

Based on Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) data, “The Selected Measures for Identifying Peer States 2016”, the
Annual Vehicle Miles of Travelled (AVMT) is 14,564 million miles. Decreasing Annual Vehicle Miles Travelled (AVMT) per
capita can directly improve air quality and the overall health of population, among others. Furthermore, decreasing AVMT
can positively impact the capacity of the roadway network in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico ranks fourth in population density in the U.S. and its territories in 2018. On average, in 2017 San Juan
commuters lost 58 hours due to car traffic and congestions with a cost (based on travel time delay and excess fuel
consumption) of $1,166, as per the 2019 Urban Mobility Report. Comparatively, San Jose, CA and Austin, TX, lost 81 hours
($1,500 worth) and 66 hours ($1,270 worth), respectively.

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Congestion issues observed on the island are caused by different factors which include, but not limited to:
• High demand for different services such as medical, governmental, private industries, and other services that are
concentrated in the metropolitan area
• Closed roads due to external factors, such as constructions, post storms effects and natural wear, among others
• Flooding due to flash flooding, in combination with lack of maintenance and/or poorly design drainage.

Figure 1 Puerto Rico Road Network. Source: Puerto Rico Transportation Assets Management Plan (TAMP)

CONDITION
Puerto Rico’s highway system construction began in the 1860’s and state highways have been adapted to industry
standards over the years when improvements or construction projects are carried out. Although the highway system has
been adapted to latter specifications, the network is continuously degrading due to lack of effective maintenance
programs. Moreover, tropical weather conditions (flooding, rain, hurricane, etc) experienced throughout the island
intensify the degradation of the infrastructure. As Puerto Rico’s roadway system reaches the end of its lifespan, much of
it needs to be replaced or undergo significant resurfacing, restoration and rehabilitation to extend its service life.

It is pertinent to highlight that municipalities, which oversee the condition of municipal roads, are not required by law to
comply with federal and/or PRHTA standards, unless the projects are federally funded. Pavement maintenance and
resurfacing activities on local municipal roads could be substantially improved by promoting quality control standards and
providing appropriate project supervision and management.

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PAVEMENT
Much of the technical information provided in this section comes from the Transportation Asset Management Plan
(TAMP), which examines the condition of National Highway System and State Highway pavements, excluding the municipal
roads. The Sec. 515.7 of Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) regulations for further explanation of TAMP.

In table 2, the pavement condition rating according to functional classification is presented. This data is from 2017, prior
Hurricane Irma and Maria impacting Puerto Rico. The current state of the pavement may have changed due to the 2017
hurricanes and the reconstruction efforts.

Table 2 Source: 2019 PR-TAMP

It is important to note that 64% of the total road system of Puerto Rico (primarily the roadways owned and maintained by
the municipalities) has not been assessed. Moreover, the lack of a data-driven asset management plan also hurts long-
term road management policies and projects. Per the TAMP, the Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) is:

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The major causes of pavement failure in Puerto Rico includes, but is not limited to, overweight trucks, fatigue-related
damage, rutting, moisture induced damage/drainage, lack of preventive maintenance, utility roadwork and/or system
issues, or quality control.

HEAVY VEHICLES
Puerto Rico truck size and weight regulations establish a maximum gross vehicle height (GWV) road vehicle weight of
110,000lbs trucks on its roadways. This load restriction is codified in Law 22- Motor Vehicle Law of Puerto Rico of 2001, as
amended. The combination of heavier trucks and lack of adequate pavement maintenance practices can accelerate
deterioration and reduce the service life of a roadway. Most truck size and weight regulation in the U.S. require trucks to
weigh 80,000 lbs or less. Compounding the deterioration is the fact that there is only one permanent weighing station on
the island. A study published in 2005 in the Latin American and Caribbean Consortium of Engineering Institutions (LACCEI)
indicates that more than 55% of the heavy vehicles that used the freeway did not enter the permanent weighing station
as stipulated by the law. Temporary portable weighing stations are used through the island; however, there is not enough
human resources to coordinate an effective island-wide truck monitoring program. Furthermore, without adequate
coordination with law enforcement, the truck weight monitoring program cannot be performed. Similar problems
associated with lack of effective law enforcement are observed at the permanent weighting station.

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SIDEWALKS
Adequate sidewalks are essential elements in urban areas,
providing safety and accessibility for the pedestrian populations.
In many locations in Puerto Rico, sidewalk discontinuity,
hydrants, signs, utility poles, and more, obstruct the sidewalks
and/or ramps for pedestrian use. This creates safety risks. The
average percentage of pedestrian’ fatalities account for 32% of
total annual traffic fatalities in Puerto Rico (1997-2018),
compared to 15% nationally, per FWHA. Estimates show that
one out of five citizen in Puerto Rico are 60 years or older.
Looking forward, sidewalks compliant with ADA requirements
will continue to play an essential role in fostering mobility for
our handicapped and aging population.

LIGHTING
The condition of lighting is of great importance, since 57.6% of
fatal crashes between 2014 and 2016 occurred at night. The
lighting system was strongly impacted by the passage of
Hurricanes Irma and María in 2017.

INTERSECTIONS
In recent years there has been initiatives to create a robust
database of Puerto Rico’s intersections control equipment (such
as signals, sensors, controller sized lights with specific
equipment, etc.), exit/entrance ramps and more. Currently this
database is incomplete. Missing information may include the
specific type of control equipment of the intersections, including state and municipal highways. Per the TAMP, the network
includes approximately 1,258 signalized intersections on state highways, but the total amount of intersections statewide
could be more. Also, the passage of Hurricane Irma and Maria in 2017 contributed significantly to the number of traffic
lights in Puerto Rico that are out of service.

OPERATION & MAINTENANCE


Puerto Rico has struggled in past years to adequately maintain its roadway network, in part because of a reduction in
personnel and partially due to a lack of dedicated funding for road preservation and maintenance. The lack of a data-
driven asset management plan also limits long-term road management policies and projects. Because of Puerto Rico’s
high density of roads per square mile, the asset priority should be on the operation and maintenance of existing
infrastructure rather than new construction.

Due to the oversight of the Fiscal Control Board, PRHTA has filed for Title III protections under PROMESA, which has
allowed the HTA to direct resources to improvement projects on state roads. Most projects have been executed by private
companies and through associated contracts, due to the limitations in recent years of personnel and equipment. The
principal projects currently funded by PRHTA are:
“Abriendo camino” Program
• High Quality Asphalt Repair Program (PEMAC, Spanish acronym) – The objective of this program is to improve
deteriorated road infrastructure, specifically the condition of the primary, secondary and tertiary roads’
pavements. This project began in 2018 and is expected to be completed by 2019 but depends on the allocation of

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/PUERTO-RICO | 42
state funds for its continuity. In 2019, the total allocation is approximately $70 million for the complete project.
The PEMAC is not related to a long-term maintenance plan.
• State Highway Modernization Program (PEMOC, Spanish acronym) – The program’s objective is to rehabilitate
more than 11,184 miles of roads in two years through the use of state and federals funds on innovative techniques,
equipment and materials. Such approaches include Warm-Mix Asphalt (WMA) and sealing of cracks, among
others.
Accelerated Program – This program began in 2017 (before
Hurricane Irma and Maria) and has been carried out in several
distinct phases. The program consists of the following: pavement
improvements (rehabilitation or reconstruction), safety
improvements on the roadside, signage and pavement marking,
and preservation of four bridges. The projects carried out
represent an estimated $298 million in federal and state funds for
a total of 34 projects. Funds are designated for: $171 million in
paving, $104 million in safety, and $23 million earmarked for
special projects with the same direction. The PRHTA has invested
approximately $7 million in state funds to design and is planning to
begin a new phase.

The maintenance of municipal roads depends on the collaboration,


coordination, personnel, and equipment from each of the 78
municipalities. However, not all locations may have the
equipment, enough technical expertise and/or personnel, or capital necessary to carry out the required work.
Furthermore, mutually beneficial collaborations between municipalities may help to fill those gaps.

FUNDING
The operations and maintenance of Puerto Rico’s state transportation system is the responsibility of the PRHTA and the
Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and Public Works (PR-DTPW). The municipal road system is not under
the jurisdiction of PRHTA or PRDTPW.

The funding for road projects varies depending upon their classification. The NHS or otherwise identified as federal
highways receive federal funding. State and municipal roads are funded by the PR central government or the
municipalities.

PRHTA road projects are primarily supported by federal funds to match local funds. PRHTA receives about $158.8 million
per year from FTA and FHWA, according to PRHTA Fiscal Plan. Non-NHS roadways can receive federal funding
from Surface Transportation Block Grant or Federal Emergency Management Agency in emergency cases.

PRHTA relies on a large surplus of toll credits to meet the non-federal share of FHWA grant funded projects, allowing the
Authority to continue developing infrastructure despite cash limitations associated with retention of revenue and
Title III status.

Puerto Rico increased revenue for transportation as part of a 2015 law known as “Crudita.” The “Crudita” raised the import
tariff on a barrel of oil from $9.25 to $15.50, which went into effect on March 15, 2015. With this, the Puerto Rico
government aims to collect about $185 million in taxes that would allow it to subsidize the PRHTA and stabilize its
finances. One of the purposes of this law is to financially assist PRHTA while also reducing its debt.

It should be noted that the infrastructure owned by PRHTA was severely impacted by Hurricane Maria. Specifically, PRHTA
estimates that Maria caused $71 million in direct losses to the agency, excluding damage to the highway network
which was estimated at $652 million.

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FUTURE NEED
Per the PRHTA fiscal plan, in the near-term, the estimated funding need is $3.1 billion of capital expenditures from FY18
to FY23 to maintain assets in a state of good repair and continue normal operations. According to the Capital Improvement
Plan, this includes:
• $2.25 billion for highway-related CIP,
• $652 million for Maria-related emergency repair, and
• $146 million for HTA’s transit-related CIP.

During the same 6-year period, HTA’s CIP expenses exceed capital revenues by $516 million. This gap will need to be
funded by operating revenues or allocations from Central Government (FY18 to FY23).

Figure 10 Revenues and Expensed divided by category

PUBLIC SAFETY
Puerto Rico has approved the Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) 2019-2023. The purpose of the SHSP is to focus the
efforts of the safety stakeholders by prioritizing strategies to keep a safe highway system for all users. Between 2007 and
2013, before the development and implementation of the first Puerto Rico SHSP, Puerto Rico reported more than 200,000
traffic crashes per year, resulting in more than 360 fatalities and 5,200 people who were seriously injured. During the
implementation of the SHSP 2014-2018, the number of traffic fatalities and serious injuries decreased by 20.72% and
36.93%, respectively. However, pedestrian traffic fatalities remain a significant concern.

Figure 11. Total crashes by crash type, 2014-2017. Source: Puerto Rico Strategic Highway Safety Plan 2019-2023

RESILIENCE & INNOVATION

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A resilient transportation system is defined as one that has the capabilities to prevent or protect against hazard threats
and/or incidents. Moreover, a resilient system should withstand and recover critical services with minimal damage to
public safety and health. Furthermore, a resilient, innovative, and sustainable transportation system should also be
capable of reducing congestion through different measures, resist daily loads, withstand climate conditions, and more.

Due to hurricane Irma and Maria rainfall and winds, landslides occurred in Puerto Rico. As a result, vehicular routes where
affected on a long-term basis. FHWA funded the “Landslide and Road Damage Evaluation and Repair Recommendations
Program,” intended to analyze and provide resilient solutions for fixing landslides as well as reestablishing affected routes.

Currently, Puerto Rico’s transportation network faces different challenges. Improving state and municipal construction
and maintenance parameters could improve the road network’s condition. For example, pavement conditions could be
improved through warm mix techniques, micro surfacing, and High Friction Surface Treatment to reduce public safety
threats.

It should be noted that PRHTA is incorporating innovation to improve highway safety. For example, PRHTA has
incorporated rumble strip countermeasures in several projects. This is used as a safety measure to address lane departure
issues. In addition, Puerto Rico has adopted FHWA's Every Day Count (EDC) initiatives. PRHTA is currently working with
the Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP) initiative of EDC-5 to improve road safety for pedestrians through
SHSP. Other potential innovation are evaluated through the State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC).

Another innovation incorporated to improve the public safety in highways is the Traffic Incident Management (TIM)
Program. The Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and Public Works (PRDTPW) developed the TIM in 2014 as part
of the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) project for the San Juan Metropolitan Area (SJMA). The TIM Program
consists of a planned and coordinated multi-disciplinary effort to detect, respond, and clear traffic incidents as fast and
safely as possible to avoid secondary incidents. Effective TIM improves traffic operations and enhances safety for all road
users, especially emergency responders and people involved in traffic crashes. In addition, the TIM program is a key
element during massive evacuations caused by natural disasters or any other event.

The resiliency of Puerto Rico’s road network has a direct effect on freight and employee movement, and the island’s ability
to attract and retain businesses, and boost tourism, economic development, public safety, and more. Assessing the
challenges with better planning, resilient, innovative, and sustainable solutions should be a short- and long-term goal.

RECOMMENDATIONS TO RAISE THE GRADE


The recommendations to raise the grade are presented on following areas.
General:
• Encourage collection, dissemination, and processing of real-time data for day-to-day benefits and long-term
planning. Future planning and projects must be based on good quality data, both from the state agencies and
municipalities.
• Improve highway safety and reduce accidents/fatalities: provision of real-time information on maintenance and
construction activities to the public and other agencies. Currently there is no database for the crashes that
occurred in work zones. Improve management of roadway closures (i.e., work zones) and alert drivers to
approaching roadway hazards. Finally, continue with the implementation of the SHSP, as it guarantees continuity
in the coordination of integrated efforts for the benefit of highway safety in Puerto Rico for the coming years. In
this way, better results can be obtained based on the best available data.
• Reduce congestion by relocating government agencies or offices out of congested zones in order to reduce traffic
jams and VMT; improving public transportation systems, and providing real-time data for congestions, traffic jams,
construction, maintenance and/or accidents occurring in the road network throughout and internet service,
webpage or phone application.

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• Improving the public transportation system and zoning could help minimize the amount of congestions in the road
network. Implementing fast construction and accident mitigation procedures could also help minimize the
congestion.
• Promote the establishment of collaborative agreements with local universities to develop research projects that
could lead to the evaluation of innovative materials and equipment, to establish effective data collection practices
and to improve data analysis capabilities to the HTA to improve road management policies and preservation
activities.

Municipalities:
• Develop quality control procedures like those adopted by PRHTA. PRHTA has been performing quality control and
quality assurance testing to verify the asphalt mixes on roadway projects. However, is possible that municipalities
are not conducting enough quality control/ quality assurance procedures nor supervising the pavement
construction job. Provide support to municipalities with technical experts, inspections, and design guides. PRHTA
could also develop a cost-effective design for municipalities that meet certain parameters to improve the
durability of the pavement.
Build capacity throughout municipalities in proposal-writing for federal funding for future projects.
• Develop programmatic agreements and/or memorandum of understanding (MOU) between municipalities to
share resources and/or equipment in order to carry out projects efficiently with a reduction in investment costs.
Intersections and traffic management:
• Create a detailed inventory of existing traffic control systems. Keeping up to date with updated, reliable, and
available information can help improve the traffic control systems, reduce congestions and reduce emergency
vehicle delays by monitoring the intersections and systems.
Pavement and Markings:
• Consider the use of different type of pavement materials, such as reclaimed rubber from (tires), recycled asphalt
pavement, and using a higher temperature for the binding grade. Incorporating these solutions may help solve
economical, structural and environmental problems. A researching throughout the local universities may help
evaluate more solutions for existing problems, as well as incorporating innovations and developing the future
professionals of the island.
• Addressing the drainage systems in the highway network is a key factor to maintain good pavement conditions. It
is well known that the combination of moisture and heavy truck traffic are the primary sources of premature
deterioration of HMA pavement. Puerto Rico highway network drainage infrastructure may be unfit for its
purpose, lacking a drainage system and/or the roads that have a drainage system that don’t receive proper
maintenance.
• Establish an effective and systemic pavement preventive program. The lack of pavement maintenance has been
a major issue affecting ride quality in Puerto Rico. Funding for maintenance problems should be allocated in order
to extend the pavement ride quality. Maintenance programs and pavement patching should be done with the
state-of-the-art procedures and higher standards applicable.
• Improve interagency communication and collaboration. Unregulated pavement utility cuts can compromise the
entire pavement condition, as well as the safety of road users on work zone areas. Agencies should collaborate
and have better communications in order to improve the short- and long-term service life of the pavements
infrastructure by reducing the amount of unregulated pavement utility cuts. Moreover, agencies can coordinate
their work in order to reduce the amount of pavement utility cuts needed by addressing the needs of multiple
agencies before repaving the roads to optimal quality.
Heavy Vehicles:
• Freight network extension - The planning factors of Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) 2045 include the
priority of increasing accessibility and mobility of freight, but planning should also take in consideration the
existing load design conditions of the routes. Otherwise, the omission of freight network extension will accelerate
the deterioration of the existing highway infrastructure.
• Do an assessment of the National Highway Freight Network (NHFN) of Puerto Rico in terms of resiliency and
availability after possible natural disasters. Having a resilient NHFN may improve disaster relief.

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• Due to the redundant highway system of Puerto Rico, trucks can reroute to by-pass permanent or temporary
weighting stations. Better law enforcement can improve road conditions by reducing the amount of trucks with
overload bypassing the weighting stations.
• Consider increasing the number of axles when carrying very heavy loads. Very heavy loads will accelerate of the
degradation of the highway and bridges infrastructure.
• Conduct a study to evaluate the economic impact of heavy truck weights (GVW = 110,000) of future maintenance
cost in highways and bridges.
APPENDIX
HTA Infrastructure agenda according Fiscal Plan
HTA has established an infrastructure agenda to maximize federal funds obligated from FHWA and FTA and improve
economic growth. Puerto Rico has a six-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The six-year CIP is comprised of the 2017-
2020 Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP) which are planned projects, active projects not included in the
STIP, and projections beyond the STIP to maintain the system in a state of good repair.
• Strategy:
o Focus CIP on maintaining the existing highways asset in an adequate operating condition
o Engage expedited design services to accelerate preliminary designs and
obligate funds – Increase project supervision through additional qualified resources
• Focus:
o Planned projects for the next six years will mainly focus on:
▪ Highway Safety Projects
▪ Improvement of existing transportation infrastructure, including pavement
reconstruction and preservation; bridge repairs and preservation; and the upgrade of traffic
signals.
▪ Congestion Mitigation
▪ For the Transit Asset, the CIP will focus on the replacement and upgrades
of buses and the TU train system
• Funds:
o Obligate as much Federal Funds as possible to support economic growth
o Current federal match is 80.25% of project costs for eligible projects, with the
state matching 19.75% (exception: 100% for emergency relief).
o Currently, HTA uses toll credits to cover the spend requirements of the state
match.
• Projects and Execution:
o The current CIP has been developed to maximize the deployment of already assigned federal funding on
existing projects and optimize the use of future funding by prioritizing infrastructure needs in order to
keep the road network in a safe operating condition.
o As part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the HTA and the FHWA, HTA is undergoing
a transformation geared at revamping its project and program delivery capabilities to eliminate its project
backlog. HTA feels confident that it will be able to deliver the described CIP in this fiscal plan, once this
transformation is completed.
o HTA has included in the fiscal plan a CIP for the Transit Assets at $5M per year to ensure availability of
funds to overhaul any bus units and train system components in disrepair

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/PUERTO-RICO | 47
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the Public Roads of Puerto Rico. Retrieved from http://vivo.uprm.edu/vivo/display/n12001

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/PUERTO-RICO | 49
Solid Waste D-
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Puerto Rico’s solid waste infrastructure is under significant strain. Post-closure activities at the 30 landfills that were closed
in the 1990s are not taking place. Meanwhile, of the 29 solid waste facilities currently in operation, only 11 are compliant
with federal standards. Insufficient operation practices, management, and inspection of both open and closed municipal
solid waste facilities often leads to improper waste compaction and ineffective leachate and stormwater management.
Consequently, this contributes to the presence of vectors at landfills, such as mosquitos, rats, and seasonal pests, which
can potentially aid the spread of zika, chikungunya, and other diseases. Capacity at existing landfills is also an urgent
concern, especially after Hurricanes Irma and Maria produced approximately 2.5 million tons of debris, or 2.5 to 3 years’
worth of solid waste that was then disposed of at landfills. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found in 2018 that
there is less than five years of remaining capacity at active landfills across the island. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico residents on
average dispose of 5.56 pounds of solid waste per person, each day, compared with the 4.4 pounds per person a day in
the mainland U.S. Recycling rates on the island are low, with approximately 9 to 14 percent of solid waste diverted.

BACKGROUND
For decades, Puerto Rico has been challenged by inadequate solid waste infrastructure. During the 1990s, the EPA
advocated for the immediate closure of 29 of the 61 landfills identified in Puerto Rico. The goal was to increase compliance
with environmental and safety regulations at the 32 landfills left, and in arrangement with the Puerto Rico Solid Waste
Reduction and Recycling Act of 1992, increase recycling rates up to 35 percent. However, almost 30 years later, Puerto
Rico is still struggling with a weak solid waste and recycling infrastructure. Moreover, the island’s recycling rate is not well
defined, with estimates of diversion somewhere between 9 percent and 14 percent in the best-case scenario.

Consumption habits, population density, geographical circumstances of the island, and the shortage of appropriate
facilities for disposal are still some of today’s challenges. The lack of dedicated funding and a multi-sector recycling
educational program, inaccurate official information on generation rates, and other environmental issues lead to a
substandard solid waste management state program which presents a risk to public safety and environmental health
concerns.

As a result, Puerto Rico’s communities are affected by the mishandling of special waste, a failure to collect and dispose
generated leachates, and impacted groundwater resources. Several open dump landfill cells are under consent decree
and compliance orders, as they were covered under a grandfathering clause included in the EPA regulations.

The last time that Puerto Rico conducted a solid waste characterization study was in 2003 at the 31 landfills and 2 transfer
stations operating in Puerto Rico that year. The results of that study are presented in Figure 1. Between year 2003 and
present day, waste generation and management has changed considerably, thus creating a need for an updated waste
characterization study to identify solid waste disposal location needs, as well as commercial and industrial waste
generation rates.

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/PUERTO-RICO | 50
HHW Others Plastic
1% 6% 10%
Glass
Paper
2%
10%

Construction
debris
17%
Paperboard
9%

Metal
Organics 10%
13%

Garden Waste
22%
Figure 1: PR Solid Waste Characterization (2003) components percentage combined by weight

CONDITION & CAPACITY


In 2017, landfills received a large volume of debris from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, particularly in the form of unrecyclable
construction and demolition debris and vegetative debris. Information provided by the landfills’ operators and the US
Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) showed that approximately 2 million tons of debris were collected and processed after
Hurricane Maria, which translates into more than 2.5 years’ worth of solid waste produced in Puerto Rico. Most of the
debris was collected by USACE and disposed at active landfills, straining the limited capacity at these facilities.

At the request of Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (PRDNER), EPA in cooperation with
private consultants, conducted a Landfill Assessment Project in 2018 to determine the overall condition and capacity of
the 29 landfills in operation. The Landfill Assessment Project is still under review and has not been made public. However,
some of the finding were revealed by officials during a public hearing at the Puerto Rico House of Representatives. Officials
reported that 67% of the existing landfills will close between 2022 and 20251. Furthermore, the remaining lifespan of the
active landfills is not more than 4 years2. These findings represent additional challenges to the regulation agencies already
tasked with the urgent need to implement a comprehensive solid waste management strategy that is environmentally
safe and cost-effective.

OPERATION & MAINTENANCE


The operation and maintenance of Puerto Rico’s landfills is the joint responsibility of municipalities and the private sector.
Most of the landfills are owned by the municipalities (only two landfills are privately owned). Thirteen out of the 29 active
landfills are also operated by the municipalities. Unfortunately, most of the Puerto Rico’s municipalities are under severe
economic duress and cannot provide efficient operation and maintenance to achieve compliance with federal standards.
For example, municipality-owned and operated landfills often lack monitoring systems that check groundwater
contamination and/or landfill gas, or their facilities may include inappropriate stormwater runoff collection systems or
unstable slopes. These landfills may also lack necessary solid waste daily cover up. Some municipalities lack the personnel

1
Agencia EFE, El Nuevo Dia, July 8, 2019
2
Agencia EFE, US Edition, September 19, 2018

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with the technical knowledge and capacity to operate a landfill. Of the 29 landfills operating in Puerto Rico, only 11 are
compliant with EPA standards, while the remaining 18 are not.

FUNDING & FUTURE NEED


The average collection fee for open dumps and compliant landfills in Puerto Rico averages $19 and $28 per ton,
respectively. Comparatively, the U.S. national mean annual tipping fees were $50.59 per ton in 2014, per ASCE’s 2017
Infrastructure Report Card. The continued operation and maintenance of landfills and recycling facilities in the U.S. is self-
funded through trash collection fees; Puerto Rico could consider raising the tipping fees in order to bring facilities to
compliance.

There are significant costs associated with improving solid waste infrastructure in Puerto Rico, including better operation
and maintenance, closure and post-closure costs to bring facilities back into compliance, and costs associated with
developing new landfills.

Closure costs in Puerto Rico are higher than normal, because most of the landfills in Puerto Rico do not comply with the
EPA regulations, meaning they are technically open dumps and more expensive to close due to remediation action needed.
A recent estimate showed closure costs of approximately $300,000 per acre. Thus, the current amount of investment
needed to close the open dump sites of Florida, Isabela, Juncos, Lajas, Moca, Cayey, Arroyo, Toa Baja and Vega Baja
landfills is estimated at approximately $85 million dollars. Additionally, landfill closing processes requires 30 years of post-
closure maintenance that can be divided in two different phases. Puerto Rico’s landfills will need $15 million dollars for
the first 20 years of post-closure maintenance, or Phase 1. Phase 2 consists in the remaining 10 years of post-closure
maintenance, where the post closure cost can be less expensive. Phase 2 cost-analysis can vary between landfills.

New landfills will be needed in the near future. With a cost of $115,000 per acre to open a new landfill cell in existing
facilities, a recent estimate suggests a minimum of $11.5 million dollars is needed to open new compliant MSW sites in
Puerto Rico. This conservative and simple assumption is based on landfill feasibility and geographical locations, but the
total amount of funding needed for new landfills or new compliant cells in existing facilities could be much more.

Due to the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) and the fiscal crisis, the funding
available for solid waste management is very limited. Municipalities rely on the central government, public private
partnerships, or federal grants to pay for solid waste infrastructure, but such arrangements are inadequate to meet the
true needs of the sector.

The recycling system in Puerto Rico also needs a new strategy. To maintain its cost-effectiveness, the recycling system
needs enough material to produce a consistent amount of revenue. Recycling partnerships should be created by regional
initiatives that include partnerships between different municipalities and private companies. Additionally, composting
should be an option for agencies and municipalities that typically dispose of vegetative waste. Incentives and legal
measures requiring regional composting may be beneficial in multiple ways by reducing the amount of waste received in
landfills and creating positive economic opportunities.

The most important need is a uniform public policy providing interagency coordination based on best engineering
practices, accurate information, identification of hidden operation costs of non-compliance landfills, the cost of not
recycling and real hauling costs. This new public policy should provide a feasible financial model adding transparency to
current waste management expenses, promote technology and infrastructure investment and centralization of services.

PUBLIC SAFETY
In the 1990s, the EPA encouraged the immediate closure of at least 30 of the more than 60 landfills in Puerto Rico. Due to
the rush to close these landfills, two important things happened:

1. There was a lack of information and monitoring procedures for the landfills that closed in the 1990s, which may
result in previously unknown hazards to the environment.

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2. Of the 29 landfills in operation today, 18 do not comply with USEPA standards and often lack proper operation
management, for example:
a. Inappropriate stormwater runoff collection systems may spread the leachate through the landfill and
nearby properties. In image 1, leachate drains and flows through the surrounding areas, affecting animals,
ecosystem, and human life.
b. Unstable slope in landfills is an active hazard to landfill employees, surrounding communities,
transportation industries, as well a threat to critical environments nearby the landfill sites.

Image 1 Leachate overflow into nearby wetland

Puerto Rico possess a vast underground water network of aquifers and wells. Such groundwater systems are a significant
part of the environment, supporting wildlife, and supplying clean water to several communities. Potential contamination
to our groundwater from landfills that were improperly closed, inadequately inspected, and/or are currently operating
out of compliance with EPA is a public health concern.

It is estimated that Puerto Ricans dispose of 4.7 million tires each year. It is worth highlighting the danger posed by the
excessive accumulation of tires for the spread of pests and diseases. Additionally, there are other potential risks to public
safety and the environment, such as fires, explosions, spills, discharges of material with objectionable odors, and
attraction of vectors. Vectors may include mosquitoes, rats, seasonal pests, and more.

RESILIENCE
The solid waste system in Puerto Rico is not resilient, nor sustainable. Post Hurricane María, research and EPA field work
found slope erosion damage, exposed garbage in slopes, and non-functional and broken leachate collection systems.
Furthermore, due to the lack of planning, communication and information, much of the debris with recycling or
composting possibilities ended in the landfills. Two years after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, there is vast
amount of waste still waiting to be separated and disposed in the landfills. Another major hurricane poses a severe risk to
the solid waste sector in Puerto Rico; existing landfills have less than five years of lifespan under normal conditions.

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Although addressing the current capacity issue is a priority, stakeholders should plan for the long-term as well.
Considerations of sea level rise, hurricane direct impacts, hurricane debris, tsunamis, and earthquakes must be part of the
long-term planning efforts.

INNOVATION
Innovation is much needed in Puerto Rico’s solid waste industry. Puerto Rico’s solid waste infrastructure faces multiple
challenges, but addressing limited space, high costs, poor recycling, and creating solutions for used tires should be a
priority. There can be an economic opportunity in generating funds from recycling, composting, and harvesting methane
gas from the landfills. Developing a strategy to resource recovery and/or recycle should be a goal. Presently, the only
sustainable solid waste management practice in consideration is the use of landfill gas for electricity purposes. Sustainable
solid waste management practices, including source reduction, should be pursed through public policy development.

RECOMMENDATIONS TO RAISE THE GRADE


• The Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources needs adequate funding and training to
close open dumps and expand compliant landfills. In general, Puerto Rico needs to increase the number of landfills
in compliance with EPA regulations, including groundwater monitoring requirements, leachate collection and
removal, composite liner requirements, and more. These actions require a purposeful focus on, and prioritization
of, solid waste infrastructure by decision-makers at all levels of government.
• Create a uniform solid waste management public policy which provides for continuous compliance assistance,
innovative waste management projects and alternative financial methods, create statewide public education
programs to encourage recycling and composting. Develop regional partnership with municipalities and the
private sector in order to made recycling more profitable.
• Perform a new study of waste characterization. Analyze where the waste comes from (residential, commercial
and industrial) and develop programs for more strategic solid waste management.
• Future solid waste system designers and regulators should take in consideration the natural hazards that may
occur in Puerto Rico. Stakeholders should consider developing a resilient and innovative solid waste Infrastructure.

SOURCES
1. Rodríguez Grafal, J. La Perla Del Sur. (2019, May 22). Negligencia y complicidad agravan desastre ambiental en
Peñuelas
https://www.periodicolaperla.com/negligencia-y-complicidad-agravan-desastre-ambiental-en-penuelas/

2. Cámara de Representantes (2018, October 3) . Cámara busca establecer política pública para resolver problema
de acumulación de neumáticos desechados e investigar congelación de fondos. (2018).
http://www.tucamarapr.org/dnncamara/web/ActividadLegislativa/Noticias/TabId/361/ArtMID/1432/ArticleID/1
392/C225mara-busca-establecer-pol237tica-p250blica-para-resolver-problema-de-acumulaci243n-de-
neum225ticos-desechados--e-investigar-congelaci243n-de-fondos.aspx

3. Primera Hora(2019, April 5) JSF da luz verde a $4.4 millones para atender crisis de neumáticos
https://www.primerahora.com/noticias/puertorico/nota/jsfdaluzverdea44millonesparaatendercrisisdeneumatic
os-1335687/

4. Alvarado León, G. El Nuevo Dia (2019, March 25). Estudio revela que a los vertederos les quedan de dos a cuatro
años de existencia.

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/PUERTO-RICO | 54
https://www.elnuevodia.com/noticias/locales/nota/estudiorevelaquealosvertederoslesquedandedosacuatroano
sdeexistencia-2484004/

5. Alvarado León, G. El Nuevo Dia (2019, March 31). Brutal rezago en reciclaje deja en evidencia tres décadas de
incumplimiento ambiental.
https://www.elnuevodia.com/noticias/locales/nota/brutalrezagoenreciclajedejaenevidenciatresdecadasdeincu
mplimientoambiental-2485246/

6. De los Milagros Colón, M. Metro Puerto Rico (2019, April 25). Se recicla poco y la mitad vuelve al vertedero.
https://www.metro.pr/pr/noticias/2019/04/25/se-recicla-poco-y-la-mitad-vuelve-al-vertedero.html

7. Alvarado León, G. El Nuevo Dia. (2019, March 31). Anticipan impacto al bolsillo por manejo de residuos sólidos.
https://www.elnuevodia.com/noticias/locales/nota/anticipanimpactoalbolsillopormanejoderesiduossolidos-
2485203/

8. Alvarado León, G. El Nuevo Dia. (2019, March 26). El estado de los vertederos se agravaría por las labores de
recuperación luego de los huracanes.
https://www.elnuevodia.com/noticias/locales/nota/elestadodelosvertederosseagravariaporlaslaboresderecuper
acionluegodeloshuracanes-2484141/

9. Univisión (2016, August 1).Piden a la EPA cerrar vertederos para frenar propagación del zika.
https://www.univision.com/local/puerto-rico-wlii/piden-a-la-epa-cerrar-vertederos-para-frenar-propagacion-
del-zika

10. Mi Puerto Rico Verde (2017, September 2). Llamado urgente a alcaldes para atender problema de desperdicios
sólidos en Puerto Rico.
http://www.miprv.com/llamado-urgente-a-alcaldes-para-atender-problema-de-desperdicios-solidos-en-puerto-
rico/

11. Felipe Nazario Muñiz. Revista de Administración Pública (ISSN 0034-7620) 139 Vol. 39, Núm. 2 (Julio - diciembre
2006), pp. 139-163.Revisión Histórica crítica del Manejo de los residuos sólidos en Puerto Rico.
12. Pirnie, Michael Landfills Report (2004). Puerto Rico Solid Waste Authority.
13. Prevén el cierre del 67 % de los vertederos de Puerto Rico para el 2022. https://www.efe.com/efe/usa/puerto-
rico/preven-el-cierre-del-67-de-los-vertederos-puerto-rico-para-2022/50000110-4018663

WEBSITES
1. http://www.ads.pr.gov/programas/
2. http://www.ads.pr.gov/programas/educacion/promotores-de-reciclaje/
3. http://www.ads.pr.gov/programas/educacion/capacitacion-de-maestros/
4. https://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/cat-item/solid-waste/

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/PUERTO-RICO | 55
Wastewater D+
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Puerto Rico’s residents and businesses largely depend on the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) to
provide wastewater collection services. PRASA owns and operates 51 wastewater treatment plants, 5,300 miles of sewer
lines, and 824 wastewater pumping stations. While PRASA has implemented new processes in response to two Consent
Decree Agreements with the Environmental Protection Agency, the agency still faces significant fiscal and operational
challenges, especially in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The island population has declined by 14 percent
since 2010, leaving fewer rate payers to fund necessary projects. The declining rate payer base, combined with a lack of
access to financing, perpetuates challenges associated with funding PRASA’s capital investment program. A total of $551
million is needed for renewal and replacement over the next six years to update aging PRASA infrastructure. A recent
restructuring of approximately $1 billion debt is expected to provide payment savings of $440 million over five years; that
funding will be provided to the stalled capital improvements program.

INTRODUCTION
The PRASA, a government corporation, is the only wastewater utility in Puerto Rico and serves approximately the 59% of
the 3.3 million residents of the island. with the remainder of the population served by septic tanks. PRASA’s responsibilities
include the approval and construction of wastewater infrastructure as well as the oversight of wastewater collection and
treatment processes.

Although wastewater infrastructure is often out of sight and out of mind for the average citizen, the collection and
treatment systems are just as important as other more visible engineered structures. However, from 1994 to 2005, many
of Puerto Rico’s wastewater treatment plants lacked capacity and/or adequate treatment and were fined by the U.S.
District Court. As a result, PRASA paid millions of dollars in fines and funded necessary remedies. Because the focus was
on bringing existing systems up to standards, PRASA was unable to approve additional sewer connections and new
construction projects. In 2015, a new consent decree was signed with EPA aimed at further improving the system.

CONDITION
PRASA’s 51 wastewater treatment plants process about 220 million gallons a day (mgd) of wastewater. Wastewater is
conveyed through 5,300 miles of sewer lines and 824 wastewater pumping stations. Most of the treated wastewater
receives secondary treatment and then is disposed in the ocean or rivers. About 116 mgd is reused as agricultural irrigation
and aquifer recharge.

The lifespan of collection systems is affected by age, type of pipe material, soil conditions and the chemistry of the
wastewater. Pipes can break, crack, disintegrate, become disjointed or clogged. Other elements like pump stations and
manholes are also subject to stress from wastewater flows. The age and resulting condition of wastewater infrastructure
typically manifests itself in failures consisting of breakdowns of plant equipment and wastewater collection system clogs
and overflows. A total of 27,729 clogs and overflows were reported during the year 2018, for an average of 5.23 per mile
of installed lines. The current rate of failures in Puerto Rico’s wastewater infrastructure indicates that the condition of
systems has improved and is relatively good. However, this is likely to change rapidly as systems reach the end of their
service lives.

Inadequate uses of the collection system impacts its performance. Incorrect uses include oil and grease discharges from
houses and restaurants, makeshift connections for rainwater from roofs, and deposition of trash and debris in manholes.
These incorrect uses impact the performance of the collection system. PRASA has recently adopted new regulations to
control grease discharges, particularly from businesses. However, continued public education and stricter enforcement is
required.

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PRASA has also been emphasizing tracking and assessing the condition of pipes, wastewater plants, pumping stations and
other components of its wastewater systems. Formal asset management programs have been put in place over the past
few years, mostly at larger PRASA facilities. In general, asset management is essential for responsible utility stewardship.
Only by understanding the risks associated with various assets can owners decide how to re-invest their limited funding
and bring the most value to the utility.

In Puerto Rico, sanitary and storm sewers are mostly separated. Throughout the 2000s, PRASA aggressively removed
connections between the two systems, thereby reducing combined sewer overflows into receiving waterways.
Additionally, around 500 miles of sanitary sewer lines have been rehabilitated over the last decade. Unfortunately, the
rate of additional sewer upgrades slowed due to the economic downturn and the related decrease in revenues.

CAPACITY
In general, Puerto Rico’s wastewater systems have adequate capacity to serve the existing population. Notably, PRASA
has improved their use of hydraulic modelling to predict capacity issues. To date, approximately 60% of the wastewater
system has been computer analysed.

Although PRASA has been actively working to improve wastewater infrastructure, regional plants and its associated main
collection lines – approximately 15 percent of the total lines – are estimated to be over capacity. Looking ahead, PRASA
requires $500 million for wastewater compliance, reliable and resiliency projects, according to the agency’s six-year
Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). That funding will be focused on improvements to wastewater treatment processes as
well as to main sewers and collection systems to improve capacity and accommodate future growth.

In the system at-large, capacity becomes a problem when infiltration and inflow (I&I) occurs. I&I is a problem for aging
and poorly maintained systems. When I&I occurs, groundwater or stormwater enters into a dedicated sanitary or
wastewater sewer system, potentially overwhelming the system past its capacity. Fortunately, PRASA’s capacity
certifications have helped the collection system avoid exceedances from the connection of new developments.

About 41 percent of Puerto Rico’s population, mostly in rural areas, depend on septic tanks to treat and dispose their
wastewater. Without these systems in place, wastewater can become a source of groundwater and surface water
contamination. There are more than 540,000 septic systems, although records are incomplete. Septic systems will remain
a viable wastewater management option in Puerto Rico given the limited extension of the PRASA’s wastewater collection
system. It is important to ensure that the septic systems are designed, constructed, and maintained properly. Currently
there is little to none oversight of the septic systems, besides the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) guidelines and
permits. Public education and regulation enforcement by EQB and EPA are an essential element of this effort.

OPERATION & MAINTENANCE


The active consent decree with EPA requires that PRASA emphasize their Capacity, Management, Operation and
Maintenance (CMOM) program guidelines to provide an increased focus on system planning and are complimentary to
asset management programs. Under the CMOM approach, a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) is
essential to schedule and track maintenance activities. CMMS allows asset-by-asset tracking of maintenance, and work
orders so that the frequency of preventive maintenance can be increased or decreased based on data-driven results. Using
these tools, PRASA is beginning to better manage its wastewater system operation and maintenance. However, usage of
this system is inconsistent.

However, PRASA lacks sufficient funding for capital-intensive infrastructure repair and replacement. As a result, leaks,
overflows, and breaks are higher than national averages. PRASA estimates the need of $551 million for renewal and
replacement for the next six years, according to the CIP, to update its aging infrastructure.

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Finally, workforce attrition is an important concern as experienced personnel with valuable institutional knowledge leave
the utility. PRASA has reduced its personnel from over 6,000 10 years ago to 4,900 today, which is a sufficient staff for
performing technically necessary duties. The need for operators, maintenance staff, electronics specialists, engineers,
geologists, laboratory analysts, and other technical staff will increase to meet future wastewater demands and changes.

PUBLIC HEALTH & SAFETY


PRASA must comply with EPA, Department of Health (DOH), and the EQB rules and regulations. Compliance with
wastewater regulations in Puerto Rico is very high, with over 92 percent of public wastewater systems operating without
health-based water quality violations. While PRASA is generally compliant, 41 percent of the population relies on septic
tanks, mean the dependence of 41% of the population on septic tanks may be a threat to public health and the
environment.

Public health and safety have been threatened recently by catastrophic failures of large wastewater treatment plants due
to Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Through better management and long-term planning framework that incorporates aspects
of resilience, these risks can be reduced.

The 2015 Consent Decree with the EPA requires PRASA to focus on projects that improve reliability in order to attain 98
percent compliance with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for each treatment facility.
PRASA’s Prioritization System, as also agreed to in the 2015 Consent Decree, establishes the Regulatory Compliance
category as the primary and most important consideration for ranking of future projects.

FUNDING AND FUTURE NEED


Water utility rates (including wastewater collection service) are expected to provide nearly all of the funds for operation,
maintenance, and expansion of water and wastewater systems. For any utility to be sustainable, rates must consider full
life-cycle costs for services, rehabilitation of existing assets and construction of new assets, resiliency measures, plus debt
service and other indirect costs.

During the period from 1994 to 2005, mainly due to the lack of sufficient funding to cover its operation costs, PRASA
depended on the Puerto Rican central government’s allocations, which were insufficient. This impacted the agency’s
Capital Improvement Program, leading to instances of non-compliance with federal and local environmental regulations.
Wastewater treatment plants were fined by a federal court, new projects endorsements were restrained, and millions of
dollars of fines were paid.

Beginning in 2006, new agreements with the regulatory agencies were signed minimizing uncertainties in the compliance
processes and the payment of fines. However, as a consequence, new extraordinary compliance costs arrived:
• At least $ 350 million over 15 years for compliance and capital improvements projects.
• $70 million annually for the operation of the Environmental Compliance Department and the Integrated
Maintenance Program.

In 2015, PRASA and EPA signed a new Consent Decree establishing issues to be addressed and requiring projects and a
general plan to be executed. The agreement also permitted PRASA to extend compliance dates to avoid new penalties.

In 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the island. They created significant challenges for PRASA. The impact on
the agency’s fiscal condition can be summarized as:
• Revenue reduction: $271 million
• Incremental expenses: $396 million
• Capital Investment Program funding for repairs to the wastewater system:
$308 million

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PRASA rates are tiered to encourage water conservation and include minimum charges to cover costs that are not affected
by demand. In 2018, PRASA issued a special increase in water service rates of 2.5 percent annually for the next five years
to address with recovery costs due to the hurricanes. This measure was coupled with operational and organizational
changes to reduce costs and move the agency into a better financial condition.

PRASA funding also includes federal programs like the Community Development Block Grant Program, the Environmental
Protection Agency Revolving Fund loans, and USDA Rural Development Programs. Some funds are also received directly
by municipalities in coordination with and using the standards set by PRASA.

A new fiscal plan, for a six-year period starting in FY2018, outlines cash management levels that PRASA will use to improve
its liquidity, including by increasing revenues while reducing expenses, working with its insurance agencies and the federal
government to secure disaster funding, increasing collection (particularly from government entities), and reducing non-
reimbursable maintenance expenses. PRASA will undertake a $2 billion Capital Investment Program (CIP) over the next six
years, with about $254 million of that allocated to damage repair of wastewater systems and resiliency. This CIP also
includes $328 million for compliance projects as well to prevent leakage within PRASA’s collection networks.

RESILIENCE
PRASA is projecting $1.3 billion in investments to improve the resiliency of its system to better withstand future
hurricanes. The main focus for resiliency is hazard mitigation, safety, treated wastewater quality, redundancy, robust
infrastructure, energy independence, management of critical assets, simplification and consolidation of its infrastructure,
increase automation of treatment plants operation, and adopt distributed solar generation and hydroelectric power
generation. The results from this vision and a robust resiliency program is intended to break the cycle of PRASA’s
infrastructure and systems risk and vulnerability.

RECOMMENDATIONS
• The wastewater discipline is becoming increasingly complex and advanced technical qualifications should be
reflected in recruitment and training programs. A qualified and trained workforce is essential to keep pace with
the needs of the system and the public it serves. Caution should be observed to avoid that economies undermine
the required institutional knowledge and experience, as it has been the situation in other government agencies.
• Prioritize the implementation of sewer line replacement and renovation programs.
• Improve inspection and enforcement of grease traps in food preparation businesses.
• Explore the possibilities to reuse treated wastewater for irrigation purposes and aquifer recharge.
• Coordinate needs with municipalities and other community organizations for the implementation of sewer
improvement projects.
• Improve the detection and repair of infiltration and exfiltration to or from wastewater mains to prevent overflows
and environment contamination.
• Consider the use of alternate energy systems in wastewater treatment facilities to reduce the dependence on the
electrical service being PR one the US jurisdictions with higher energy cost.

REFERENCES
1. El Nuevo Dia Newspaper Reports. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.elnuevodia.com/english/
2. Imagine PR 2018 Report. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.resilientpuertorico.org/en/reports-2/
3. Interviews with PRASA Officials. (2019). Retrieved from http://gdb.pr.gov/investors_resources/prasa.html
4. PRASA Fiscal Plan 2018-23. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.acueductospr.com/
5. PRASA Strategic Plan 2014-18. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.acueductospr.com/

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6. Professional Opinion Report Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority. (2016, October 7) Retrieved from
https://www.acueductospr.com/NUESTRAAUTORIDAD/download/plandecenal/Apéndice B - PRASA-
Professional-Opinion-Report.pdf
7. United States of America, (Plaintiff) v. Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority and The Commonwealth of
Puerto Rico (Defendants). (2015, September 15). Retrieved from
https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/enrd/pages/attachments/2015/10/01/prasa_consent_decree_with_
revised_appendices.pdf

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